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Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy

Success depends on IT initiatives clearly aligned to business goals, IT excellence, and driving technology innovation.

IT strategies are often nonexistent or ineffective:

  • 74.6% of organizations have an IT strategy process they feel is ineffective.
  • IT does not do a good job of communicating its support for business goals; therefore, 23.6% of CXOs still feel that their goals are unsupported by IT.

IT departments that have not developed IT strategies experience alignment, organization, and prioritization issues.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • A CIO has three roles: enable business productivity, run an effective IT shop, and drive technology innovation. Your key initiative plan must reflect these three mandates and how IT strives to fulfill them.
  • Don’t project your vision three to five years into the future. Dive deep on next year’s big-ticket items instead.
  • Developing an IT strategy is a wasted effort if no mechanisms are put in place to govern the journey.
  • If you don’t communicate it, it doesn’t exist; simple, appealing, and inspirational communication is needed.

Impact and Result

  • Establish the scope of your IT strategy by defining IT’s mission and vision statements and guiding principles.
  • Perform a retrospective of IT’s performance to recognize the current state while highlighting important strategic elements to address going forward.
  • Elicit the business context and identify strategic initiatives that are most important to the organization while building a plan to execute on it.
  • Evaluate the foundational elements of IT’s operational strategy that will be required to successfully execute on key initiatives.
  • Wrap all strategic information into a highly visual and compelling presentation that enables easy customization and executive-facing content.

Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy

1. Business-Aligned IT Strategy Deck – A step-by-step document that walks you through how to properly align with the business, achieve IT excellence, and drive technology innovation.

Align with the business by creating an IT strategy that documents the business context, key initiatives, and a strategic roadmap. To create a business-aligned IT strategy, you must understand what the business does and what the business will need. Only then can a carefully thought-out, strategic and tactical plan be created for execution.

This storyboard will help you build your IT mission and vision statements and IT guiding principles, elicit business context from the CIO and the IT team, identify your key initiatives and build their profiles, construct your strategic roadmap, and evaluate your governance structures, budget, and organizational changes.

2. IT Presentation Template – A best-of-breed template to help you build a clear, concise, and compelling strategy document for stakeholders.

This presentation template uses sample data from "Acme Corp" to demonstrate an ideal IT strategy. Use this template to document your final strategy outputs including executive-facing business alignment and strategy highlights, key initiatives and summaries, strategic roadmap, budget proposal, IT goals and operating model, functional project roadmaps, and year-in-review data to highlight IT success stories.

3. IT Strategy Workbook – A structured tool to help you prioritize IT strategy activities and build a roadmap to ensure success.

This tool guides an IT department in planning and prioritization activities to build an effective IT strategy. This Excel workbook guides you through making key decisions regarding the visuals that should be incorporated into your final presentation document. Key activities include building a goals cascade visual that shows the relationships between business and IT goals, initiatives, and capabilities; prioritizing key initiatives using a balanced scorecard approach; and building the IT strategy roadmap using a Gantt chart visual to showcase project execution timelines.


Member Testimonials

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve. See our top member experiences for this blueprint and what our clients have to say.

9.2/10


Overall Impact

$90,116


Average $ Saved

32


Average Days Saved

Client

Experience

Impact

$ Saved

Days Saved

Connecticut Water Company

Workshop

9/10

$30,999

20

Alliance Inspection Management, LLC

Workshop

9/10

$123K

20

Delek US

Workshop

7/10

$30,999

5

AACSB International

Guided Implementation

10/10

$30,999

N/A

Metroplus Health Plan, Inc.

Workshop

10/10

$6,199

20

Affiliated Distributors, Inc

Guided Implementation

1/10

N/A

N/A

Government of the United States Virgin Islands

Workshop

10/10

$12,399

29

Plumbing Distributors

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

90

Choice Properties Limited Partnership

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

50

County of Napa

Workshop

10/10

$37,199

14

Government of Bermuda

Workshop

10/10

$200K

20

Colonial Savings, F.A.

Guided Implementation

9/10

N/A

50

DD Traders, Inc.

Guided Implementation

10/10

$61,999

50

Simnet

Guided Implementation

10/10

$100K

110

Department of Housing & Community Development

Workshop

9/10

$61,999

65

March Networks Corporate

Guided Implementation

9/10

$50,000

14

City Of Waterloo

Workshop

10/10

$50,000

20

LSU Health Sciences Center

Guided Implementation

10/10

$37,199

75

Virginia Community College System

Workshop

10/10

$37,199

115

California Department of General Services

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

10

University Of Regina

Workshop

9/10

$16,000

10

ReCor Medical

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

N/A

Granite State Management & Resources

Workshop

10/10

$10,000

44

University of Maribor

Guided Implementation

9/10

$3,000

5

American Realty Advisors

Guided Implementation

8/10

$12,399

10

Dar Al Handasah Consultants Shair & Partners Holdings Ltd.

Guided Implementation

9/10

$61,999

20

Kentucky Public Pensions Authority

Workshop

9/10

N/A

10

Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union

Workshop

9/10

$12,399

5

Central University of Technology

Workshop

10/10

N/A

75

Prince George's Community College

Guided Implementation

10/10

$12,399

9


IT Strategy

Note: Updated Academy content is coming soon

Develop a data-driven, fit-for-purpose plan with a strong link to execution.
This course makes up part of the Strategy & Governance Certificate.

Now Playing: Academy: IT Strategy | Executive Brief

An active membership is required to access Info-Tech Academy
  • Course Modules: 4
  • Estimated Completion Time: 2-3 hours
  • Featured Analysts:
  • Andy Liu, Associate Executive Advisor
  • David Glazer, Practice Lead, CIO Practice

Onsite Workshop: Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Pre-Workshop: Elicit Business Context

The Purpose

Conduct analysis and facilitate discussions to uncover what business needs mean for IT and how IT plans to support the business.

Key Benefits Achieved

Build an understanding of what business needs mean for IT, the business strategy, and a clear alignment between the two.

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Identify business context and business goals.

  • Business Context and Business Goals
1.2

Customize your organization’s capability map.

  • Customized Capability Map
1.3

(Optional) Compile and prioritize IT success stories.

Module 2: Establish Scope and Review IT Performance

The Purpose

Define statements, principles, and goals to establish the scope of your IT strategy and assess IT’s past performance.

Key Benefits Achieved

Identify and document the scope of your IT strategy and the successes from IT’s past performance (business value realized, key milestones and successful projects, etc.).

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Create the IT vision statement, IT mission statement, and identify IT guiding principles.

  • IT Vision Statement
  • IT Mission Statement
2.2

Define the IT strategy scope.

  • IT Guiding Principles and Scope
2.3

Determine business value realized from the last fiscal year.

  • Business Value Realized
2.4

Evaluate diagnostic data and evaluate IT performance.

Module 3: Build Your Key Initiative Plan

The Purpose

Identify high-priority key initiatives to support the business, enable IT excellence, and drive technology innovation.

Key Benefits Achieved

Build your key initiative plan along with your goals cascade visual to clearly communicate business alignment back to your key initiatives.

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Determine goals cascade from business goals to IT goals, including required IT capabilities, IT initiatives, and IT goals.

  • List of IT Initiatives
  • Goals Cascade

Module 4: Build Your Key Initiative Plan (Continued)

The Purpose

Identify high-priority key initiatives to support the business, enable IT excellence, and drive technology innovation.

Key Benefits Achieved

Build your key initiative plan along with your goals cascade visual to clearly communicate business alignment back to your key initiatives.

Activities

Outputs

4.1

Prioritize your IT initiatives.

  • IT Initiative One-Pagers (Sample)
4.2

Build your roadmap.

  • IT Roadmap
4.3

Develop business-focused sunshine diagram.

Module 5: Define Your Operational Strategy

The Purpose

Evaluate the key components on an operational strategy that will help your team execute on your key strategic initiatives.

Key Benefits Achieved

Build a strong operational strategy to ensure IT can deliver what they promise and put in place the mechanisms to govern your journey.

Activities

Outputs

5.1

Identify metrics and targets per IT goal.

  • IT Metrics and Targets
5.2

Establish stakeholder communication approach.

  • Stakeholder Communication Plan
5.3

Identify organizational changes required.

  • IT Resourcing Changes
5.4

Identify IT’s target budget.

Module 6: Next Steps and Wrap-Up

The Purpose

Complete your strategy by building a highly visual and compelling presentation that enables easy customization and executive-facing content.

Key Benefits Achieved

Simple, appealing, and inspirational communication of your strategy to all key stakeholders is a must to ensure IT’s success.

Activities

Outputs

6.1

Discuss next steps and wrap-up.

  • IT Strategy Presentation
6.2

Complete in-progress deliverables from previous four days.

6.3

Set up review time for workshop deliverables.


Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy

Success depends on IT initiatives clearly aligned to business goals, IT excellence, and driving technology innovation.

Executive Summary

IT strategies are often nonexistent or ineffective.

  • According to the Management and Governance diagnostic (MGD), 74.6% of organizations have an IT strategy process they feel is ineffective (Info-Tech, Management and Governance Diagnostic; n=1,931).
  • IT does not do a good job of communicating their support for business goals, therefore, 23.6% of CXOs still feel that their goals are unsupported by IT (Info-Tech, CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic; n=863).

IT departments that have not developed IT strategies experience alignment, organization, and prioritization issues.

Three-quarters of surveyed CEOs value tech leaders with experience fostering operational stability and strategic business alignment (CIO Journal, 2020), however…

  • The CIO is seen as an order taker by business executives. This usually results in the demands on IT far outstripping the IT budget.
  • Projects and initiatives are not prioritized around business objectives. Synergies and dependencies are recognized too late. Projects are often late or put on hold because of sudden changes to business requirements.

Follow Info-Tech’s approach to developing a strong IT strategy.

  • Use Info-Tech’s industry-focused approach to discern the business context.
  • Clearly communicate to business executives how IT will support the organization’s key objectives and initiatives using the Strategy Presentation Template.
  • Use Info-Tech’s Prioritization Tool to help make project decisions in a holistic manner that allows for the selection of the most-valuable initiatives to become part of the IT strategic roadmap.

Info-Tech Insight

A CIO has three roles: enable business productivity, run an effective IT shop, and drive technology innovation. Your IT strategy must reflect these three mandates and how IT strives to fulfill them.

Info-Tech’s approach

Image is four intertwined circles that are labelled 1-4.

1. Establish the Scope of Your IT Strategy

Establish the scope of your IT strategy by defining IT’s mission and vision statements and guiding principles.

2. Review IT Performance From Last Fiscal Year

A retrospective of IT’s performance helps recognize the current state while highlighting important strategic elements to address going forward.

3. Build Your Key Initiative Plan

Elicit the business context and identify strategic initiatives that are most important to the organization and build a plan to execute on them.

4. Define IT’s Operational Strategy

Evaluate the foundational elements of IT’s operational strategy that will be required to successfully execute on key initiatives.

Info-Tech’s methodology for IT Strategy

01 Business Context 02 Key Initiative Plan 03 Operational Strategy 04 Executive Presentation
Inputs
  • Business Strategy
  • Industry Capability Map
  • Business Context Information
  • Diagnostic Reports to Assess Current State
  • Last Fiscal Strategy
  • Key Initiatives List
  • Last Fiscal Operational Strategy
  • Initiatives & Roadmap
  • Operational Strategy
Outputs

Business Context Information for Step 2:

  • Business goals
  • Organizational objectives & initiatives
  • Industry customized capability map

IT Strategy Information for Approval:

  • Strategy scope
  • Year in review
  • Key initiative plan & profiles
  • Goals cascade
  • Roadmap

Operational Strategy Information for Step 4:

  • Stakeholder management
  • Metrics & targets
  • Risk management
  • Organizational changes
  • Budget
  • Functional roadmap & next steps

Executive Presentations for:

  • Business executives
  • IT team
  • Board
  • Org-wide key highlights
Service

Pre-Workshop Industry-Specific Guided Implementation

IT Strategy Workshop

IT Strategy Workshop

IT Strategy Workshop

Info-Tech’s methodology for IT Strategy

Image shows Info-Tech's methodology for IT strategy. It covers the four approaches listed above and includes their light weight assessment and thorough analysis

Blueprint deliverables

The IT Strategy Workbook supports each step of this blueprint to help you accomplish your goals:

Screenshot taken from the IT Strategy Workbook

Goals Cascade Visual

Elicit business context and use the workbook to build your custom goals cascade.


Screenshot taken from the IT Strategy Workbook

Initiative Prioritization

Use the weighted scorecard approach to evaluate and prioritize your strategic initiatives.

Screenshot taken from the IT Strategy Workbook

Roadmap/Gantt Chart

Populate your Gantt chart to visually represent your key initiative plan over the next 12 months.

Key deliverable:

IT Strategy Presentation Template

A highly visual and compelling presentation template that enables easy customization and executive-facing content.

Screenshot of IT Strategy Presentation Template

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

"Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful"

Guided Implementation

"Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track."

Workshop

"We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place."

Consulting

"Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project."

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks are used throughout all four options.

Guided Implementation

What does a typical GI on this topic look like?

Image outlines the guided implementation process.

A Guided Implementation (GI) is a series of calls with an Info-Tech analyst to help implement our best practices in your organization.

A typical GI is between 8 to 12 calls over the course of 2 to 4 months.

Workshop Overview

Contact your account representative for more information.

workshops@infotech.com 1-888-670-8889

Session 0 (Pre-Workshop) Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5
Elicit Business Context Establish Scope and Review IT Performance Build Your Key Initiative Plan Build Your Key Initiative Plan Define Your Operational Strategy Next Steps and Wrap-Up
Activities

0.1 Identify business context and business goals.

0.2 Customize your organization’s capability map.

0.3 (Optional) Compile and prioritize IT success stories.

1.1 Create the IT vision statement and IT mission statement, and identify IT guiding principles.

1.2 Define the IT strategy scope.

1.3 Determine business value realized from the last fiscal year.

1.4 Evaluate diagnostic data and evaluate IT performance.

2.1 Determine goals cascade from business goals to IT goals:

  • Required IT capabilities
  • IT initiatives
  • IT goals

3.1 Prioritize your IT initiatives.

3.2 Build your roadmap.

3.3 Develop business-focused sunshine diagram.

4.1 Identify metrics and targets per IT goal.

4.2 Establish stakeholder communication approach.

4.3 Identify organizational changes required.

4.4 Identify key IT budget elements.

5.1 Discuss next steps and wrap-up.

5.2 Complete in-progress deliverables from previous four days.

5.3 Set up review time for workshop deliverables.

Outcomes
  1. Business Context and Business Goals
  2. Customized Capability Map
  1. IT Vision Statement
  2. IT Mission Statement
  3. IT Guiding Principles and Scope
  4. Business Value Realized
  1. List of IT Initiatives
  2. Goals Cascade
  1. IT Roadmap
  2. IT Initiative One-Pagers (Sample)
  1. IT Metrics and Targets
  2. Stakeholder Communication Plan
  3. IT Resourcing Changes
  1. IT Strategy Presentation

Workshop Requirements

Launch Diagnostics Business Inputs IT Inputs

Launch the CIO Business Vision diagnostic.

Launch the CEO-CIO Alignment diagnostic.

Launch the Management and Governance diagnostic.

Gather all historical diagnostic reports (if they exist).

Contact your Account Manager to get started.

Gather business strategy documents and find information on:

  • Business goals
  • Business initiatives
  • Business capabilities to create or enhance

(If this doesn’t exist for your organization, contact your Info-Tech Account Manager to get started.)

Interview the following stakeholders to uncover business context information:

  • CEO
  • CFO

Download the Business Context Discovery Tool

Gather information on last fiscal year’s strategy. Particularly information on:

  • IT goals
  • Specific IT initiatives/projects completed
  • Project start and end dates
  • Metrics and targets and progress made towards them
  • Last fiscal year’s budget information
  • Organizational structure

Phase 1

Establish Scope of Your IT Strategy

Model of the four phases is shown, and lists activities for the highlighted phase. Phase 1 is highlighted.

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • How to build IT mission and vision statements
  • How to elicit IT guiding principles
  • How to finalize and communicate your IT strategy scope

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

To complete this phase, you will need:

IT Strategy Presentation Template

Screenshot of first slide of IT Strategy Presentation Template

Use the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document the results from the following activities:

  • Mission and Vision Statements
  • IT Guiding Principles

IT must aim to support the organization’s mission and vision

A mission statement:

  • Focuses on today and what an organization does to achieve it.
  • Drives the company.
  • Answers: What do we do? Whom do we serve? How do we service them?

"A mission statement focuses on the purpose of the brand; the vision statement looks to the fulfillment of that purpose."

A vision statement:

  • Focuses on tomorrow and what an organization ultimately wants to become.
  • Gives the company direction.
  • Answers: What problems are we solving? Who and what are we changing?

"A vision statement provides a concrete way for stakeholders, especially employees, to understand the meaning and purpose of your business. However, unlike a mission statement – which describes the who, what, and why of your business – a vision statement describes the desired long-term results of your company's efforts."

Source: Business News Daily, 2020

Characteristics of a mission & vision statement

A strong mission statement has the following characteristics:

  • Articulates the IT function’s purpose and reason for existence
  • Describes what the IT function does to achieve its vision
  • Defines the customers of the IT function
  • Is:
    • Compelling
    • Easy to grasp
    • Sharply focused
    • Concise

A strong vision statement has the following characteristics:

  • Describes a desired future achievement
  • Focuses on ends, not means
  • Communicates promise
  • Is:
    • Concise; no unnecessary words
    • Compelling
    • Achievable
    • Measurable

Derive the IT mission and vision statements from the business’

Begin the process by identifying and locating the business mission and vision statements.

Image shows three small pictures. One is a computer and labelled corporate websites. The second one is map labelled business strategy documents. The last is an image of three people, labelled business executives.

Ensure there is alignment between the business and IT statements.

Note: Mission statements may remain the same unless the IT department’s mandate is changing.

Four circles are shown. On the top left is a circle labelled business mission. A squiggly line is in-between it and another circle. The circle it is connected to is labelled IT mission. On the bottom left the circle is labelled business vision and the circle connected to it is labelled IT vision.

1.1 Construct mission and vision statements

Objective: Help teams define their purpose (why they exist) to build a mission statement (if one doesn't already exist).

30 minutes

Step 1:

  • Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your business context inputs, specifically the corporate mission statement.
  • Begin by asking the participants:
    • What is our job as a team?
    • What’s our goal? How do we align IT to our corporate mission?
    • What benefit are we bringing to the company and the world?
  • Ask them to share general thoughts in a check-in.

Step 2:

  • Share some examples of IT mission statements.
    • Example: IT provides innovative product solutions and leadership that drives growth and success.
  • Provide each participant with some time to write their own version of an IT mission statement.

Step 3:

  • This step involves reviewing individual mission statements, combining them, and building one collective mission statement for the team.
  • Consider the following approach to build a unified mission statement:
    • Use the 20x20 rule for group decision making. Give the group no more than 20 minutes to craft a collective team purpose with no more than 20 words.
  • As a facilitator, provide guidelines on how to write for the intended audience. Business stakeholders need business language.
  • Refer back to the corporate mission statement periodically and ensure there is alignment.
  • Document your final mission statement in your IT Strategy Presentation Template.

1.1 Construct mission and vision statements (cont.)

Objective: Help teams define their ideal culture (how they work together to achieve their purpose) to a vision statement.

60 minutes

Step 4:

  • Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your business context inputs, specifically the corporate vision statement.
  • Share one or more examples of vision statements.
  • Provide participants with sticky notes and writing materials, and ask them to work individually for this step.
  • Ask participants to brainstorm using the following questions:
    • What is the desired future state of the IT organization?
    • How should we work to attain the desired state?
    • How do we want IT to be perceived in the desired state?
  • Provide participants with guidelines to build descriptive, compelling, and achievable statements regarding their desired future state.
  • Regroup as a team and review participant answers.

Step 5:

  • Ask the team to post their notes on the wall.
  • Have the team group the words that have a similar meaning or feeling behind them – these will create themes.
  • When the group is done categorizing the statements into themes, ask if there's anything missing. Did they ensure alignment to the corporate vision statement? Are there any elements missing when considering alignment back to the corporate vision statement?

Step 6:

  • Consider each category as a component of your vision statement.
  • Review each category with participants; define what the behavior looks like when it is being met and what it looks like when it isn’t.
  • As a facilitator, provide guidelines on word-smithing and finessing the language.
  • Refer back to the corporate vision statement periodically and ensure there is alignment.
  • Document your final mission statement in your IT Strategy Presentation Template.
Source: Hyper Island Toolbox

Tips for Online Facilitation

Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows participants to use a large, zoomable canvas. Set up each topic at a different area of the board; spread them out just like you would do it on the walls of a room. Invite participants to zoom in and visit each section and add their ideas as sticky notes once you reach that section of the exercise. If you’re not using an online whiteboard, we’d recommend using a collaboration tool such as Google Docs to collect the information for each step under a separate heading. Invite everyone into the document but be very clear in regard to editing rights. Pre-create your screen deck and screen share this with your participants through your videoconferencing software. We’d also recommend sharing this so participants can go through the deck again during the reflection steps. When facilitating group discussion, we’d recommend that participants use non-verbal means to indicate they’d like to speak. You can use tools like Teams’ “raise hand” tool, a reaction emoji, or just have people put their hands up. The facilitator can then invite that person to talk.

Input

  • Business mission statement
  • Business vision statement

Output

  • IT mission statement
  • IT vision statement

Materials

  • Screen
  • Projector
  • Sticky notes
  • Markers
  • Whiteboard
  • Paper
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template and document your mission and vision statements in section 1.

IT mission statements demonstrate the IT function’s purpose

The IT mission statement specifies the function’s purpose or reason for being. The mission should guide each day’s activities and decisions. The mission statements use simple and concise terminology and speak loudly and clearly, generating enthusiasm for the organization.

Strong IT mission statements have the following characteristics:

  • Articulates the IT function’s purpose and reason for existence
  • Describes what the IT function does to achieve its vision
  • Defines the customers of the IT function
  • Is:
    • Compelling
    • Easy to grasp
    • Sharply focused
    • Inspirational
    • Memorable
    • Concise

Sample IT Mission Statements:

  • To provide infrastructure, support, and innovation in the delivery of secure, enterprise-grade information technology products and services that enable and empower the workforce at [Company Name].
  • To help fulfil organizational goals, the IT department is committed to empowering business stakeholders with technology and services that facilitate effective processes, collaboration, and communication.
  • The mission of the information technology (IT) department is to build a solid, comprehensive technology infrastructure; to maintain an efficient, effective operations environment; and to deliver high-quality, timely services that support the business goals and objectives of ABC Inc.
  • The IT department has operational, strategic, and fiscal responsibility for the innovation, implementation, and advancement of technology at ABC Inc. in three main areas: network administration and end-user support, instructional services, and information systems. The IT department provides leadership in long-range planning, implementation, and maintenance of information technology across the organization.
  • The IT group is customer-centered and driven by its commitment to management and staff. It oversees services in computing, telecommunications, networking, administrative computing, and technology training.

Sample mission statements continued

  • To collaborate and empower our stakeholders, through an engaged team and operational agility, and deliver innovative technology and services.
  • Through collaboration and agility, empower our stakeholders with innovative technology and services.
  • To collaborate and empower our stakeholders, by delivering innovative technology and services, with an engaged team and operational agility.
  • To partner with departments and be technology leaders that will deliver innovative, secure, efficient, and cost-effective services for our citizens.
  • As a client-centric strategic partner, provide excellence in IM and IT services through flexible business solutions for achieving positive user experience and satisfaction.
  • Develop a high-performing global team that will plan and build a scalable, stable operating environment.
  • Through communication and collaboration, empower stakeholders with innovative technology and services.
  • Build a robust portfolio of technology services and solutions, enabling science-lead and business-driven success.
  • Guided by value-driven decision making, high-performing teams and trusted partners deliver and continually improve secure, reliable, scalable, and reusable services that exceed customer expectations.
  • Engage the business to grow capabilities and securely deliver efficient services to our users and clients.
  • Engage the business to securely deliver efficient services and grow capabilities for our users and clients.

IT vision statements demonstrate what the IT organization “aspires to be”

The IT vision statement communicates a desired future state of the IT organization. The statement is expressed in the present tense. It seeks to articulate the desired role of IT and how IT will be perceived.

Strong IT vision statements have the following characteristics:

  • Describes a desired future
  • Focuses on ends, not means
  • Communicates promise
  • Is:
    • Concise; no unnecessary words
    • Compelling
    • Achievable
    • Inspirational
    • Memorable

Sample IT Vision Statements:

  • To be a trusted advisor and partner in enabling business innovation and growth through an engaged IT workforce.
  • The IT organization will strive to become a world-class value center that is a catalyst for innovation.
  • IT is a cohesive, proactive, and disciplined team that delivers innovative technology solutions while demonstrating a strong customer-oriented mindset.
  • Develop and maintain IT and an IT support environment that is secure, stable, and reliable within a dynamic environment.

Sample vision statements continued

  • Alignment: To ensure that the IT organizational model and all related operational services and duties are properly aligned with all underlying business goals and objectives. Alignment reflects an IT operation "that makes sense," considering the business served, its interests and its operational imperatives.
  • Engagement: To ensure that all IT “vision” stakeholders are fully engaged in technology related planning and the operational parameters of the IT service portfolio. IT stakeholders include the IT performing organization (IT Department), company executives and end-users.
  • Best Practices: To ensure that IT operates in a standardized fashion, relying on practical management standards and strategies properly sized to technology needs and organizational capabilities.
  • Commitment to Customer Service: To ensure that IT services are provided in a timely, high quality manner, designed to fill the operational needs of the front-line end-users, working within the boundaries established by business interests and technology best practices.
Quoted From ITtoolkit, 2020

Case Study

INDUSTRY

Professional Services

COMPANY

This case study is based on a real company but was anonymized for use in this research.

Acme Corp. was able to construct its IT mission and vison statements by aligning to its corporate mission and vision.

Business

Mission

We help IT leaders achieve measurable results by systematically improving core IT processes, governance, and critical technology projects.

Vision

Acme Corp. will grow to become the largest research firm across the industry by providing unprecedented value to our clients.

IT

Mission

IT provides innovative product solutions and leadership that drives growth and success.

Vision

We will relentlessly drive value to our customers through unprecedented innovation.

IT guiding principles set the boundaries of your strategy

Strategic guiding principles advise the IT organization on the boundaries of the strategy.

  • Guiding principles are a priori decisions that limit the scope of strategic thinking to what is acceptable organizationally, from a budgetary, people, and partnership standpoint. Guiding principles can cover other dimensions as well.

Organizational stakeholders are more likely to follow IT principles when a rationale is provided.

  • After defining the set of IT principles, ensure that they are all expanded upon with a rationale. The rationale ensures principles are more likely to be followed because they communicate why the principles are important and how they are to be used. Develop the rationale for each IT principle your organization has chosen.

Two circles are displayed with an equal sign in-between. The circle on the left is labelled IT Guiding Principles. The circle on the right of the equal sign is labelled IT Strategy Boundaries

Consider these four components when brainstorming guiding principles

Breadth of the IT strategy can span across the seven perspectives: people, process, technology, data, process, sourcing, location, and timing.

Defining which of the seven perspectives is in scope for the IT strategy is crucial to ensuring the IT strategy will be comprehensive, relevant, and actionable.

Depth of coverage refers to the level of detail the IT strategy will go into for each perspective. Info-Tech recommends that depth should go to the initiative level (i.e. individual projects).

Organizational Coverage will determine which part of the organization the IT strategy will cover.

Planning Horizon of the IT strategy will dictate when the target state should be reached and the length of the roadmap.

Consider this criteria when brainstorming guiding principle statements

Approach focused IT principles are focused on the approach, i.e. how the organization is built, transformed, and operated, as opposed to what needs to be built, which is defined by both functional and non-functional requirements.
Business relevant Create IT principles that are specific to the organization. Tie IT principles to the organization’s priorities and strategic aspirations.
Long lasting Build IT principles that will withstand the test of time.
Prescriptive Inform and direct decision making with IT principles that are actionable. Avoid truisms, general statements, and observations.
Verifiable If compliance can’t be verified, the principle is less likely to be followed.
Easily digestible IT principles must be clearly understood by everyone in IT and by business stakeholders. IT principles aren’t a secret manuscript of the IT team. IT principles should be succinct; wordy principles are hard to understand and remember.
Followed

Successful IT principles represent a collection of beliefs shared among enterprise stakeholders. IT principles must be continuously “preached” to all stakeholders to achieve and maintain buy-in.

In organizations where formal policy enforcement works well, IT principles should be enforced through appropriate governance processes.

Review ten universal IT principles to determine if your organization wishes to adopt them

IT Principle Name IT Principle Statement
1. Enterprise value focus We aim to provide maximum long-term benefits to the enterprise as a whole while optimizing total costs of ownership and risks.
2. Fit for purpose We maintain capability levels and create solutions that are fit for purpose without over engineering them.
3. Simplicity We choose the simplest solutions and aim to reduce operational complexity of the enterprise.
4. Reuse > buy > build We maximize reuse of existing assets. If we can’t reuse, we procure externally. As a last resort, we build custom solutions.
5. Managed data We handle data creation, modification, and use enterprise-wide in compliance with our data governance policy.
6. Controlled technical diversity We control the variety of technology platforms we use.
7. Managed security We manage security enterprise-wide in compliance with our security governance policy.
8. Compliance to laws and regulations We operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
9. Innovation We seek innovative ways to use technology for business advantage.
10. Customer centricity We deliver best experiences to our customers with our services and products.

1.2 Elicit guiding principles

Objective: Generate ideas for guiding principle statements with silent sticky note writing.

60 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your mission and vision statements.
  2. Ask the group to brainstorm answers individually, silently writing their ideas on separate sticky notes. Provide the brainstorming criteria from the previous slide to all team members. Allow the team to put items on separate notes that can later be shuffled and sorted as distinct thoughts.
  3. After a set amount of time, ask the members of the group to stick their notes to the whiteboard and quickly present them. Categorize all ideas into four major buckets: breadth, depth, organizational coverage, and planning horizon. Ideally, you want one guiding principle to describe each of the four components.
  4. If there are missing guiding principles in any category or anyone’s items inspire others to write more, they can stick those up on the wall too, after everyone has presented.
  5. Discuss and finalize your IT guiding principles.
  6. Document your guiding principles in the IT Strategy Presentation Template under section 1.
Source: Gamestorming, 2010

Input

  • Four components for eliciting guiding principles
  • Mission and vision statements

Output

  • IT guiding principles
  • IT strategy scope

Materials

  • Sticky notes
  • Whiteboard/flip chart
  • Pens
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template and document your mission and vision statements in section 1.

Example guiding principles

  • Alignment: Our IT decisions will align with [our organization’s] strategic plan.
  • Resources: We will allocate cyberinfrastructure resources based on providing the greatest value and benefit for [the community].
  • User Focus: User needs will be a key component in all IT decisions.
  • Collaboration: We will work within and across organizational structures to meet strategic goals and identify opportunities for innovation and improvement.
  • Transparency: We will be transparent in our decision making and resource use.
  • Innovation: We will value innovative and creative thinking.
  • Data Stewardship: We will provide a secure but accessible data environment.
  • IT Knowledge and Skills: We will value technology skills development for the IT community.
  • Drive Reduced Costs and Improved Services
  • Deploy Packaged Apps – Do not Develop – retain business process knowledge expertise – Reduce apps portfolio
  • Standardize/Consolidate Infrastructure with Key Partners
  • Use what we Sell, and help Sell
  • Drive High-Availability Goals: No Blunders
  • Ensure Hardened Security and Disaster Recovery
  • Broaden Skills (hard and soft) across the workforce
  • Improve Business Alignment and IT Governance
Quoted From: Office of Information Technology, 2014; Future of CIO, 2013

Case Study

INDUSTRY

Professional Services

COMPANY

Acme Corp.

Acme Corp. elicited guiding principles that set the scope of its IT strategy for FY21.

A half circle is displayed that is separated into four parts. Each section has a guiding principle to define the values that drive IT's strategy in FY21.

1.3 Finalize your IT strategy scope

Your mission and vision statements and your guiding principles should the first things you communicate on your IT strategy document.

Why is this important?

  • Communicating these elements shows how IT supports the corporate direction.
  • The vision and mission statements will clearly articulate IT’s aspirations and purpose.
  • The guiding principles will clearly articulate what and how IT plans to support the business strategically.
  • These elements set expectations with stakeholders for the rest of your strategy.

Input information into the IT Strategy Presentation Template

A triangle is displayed that has three intertwined circles. Each side of the triangle is labelled. The sides are labelled_ IT Mission and IT Vision. The bottom is labelled IT Guiding Principles. The circles are labelled IT Strategy Scope

Summary of Accomplishment

Established the scope of your IT strategy

  • Constructed the IT mission statement to communicate the IT organization’s reason for being.
  • Constructed the IT vision statement to communicate the desired future state of the IT organization.
  • Elicited IT’s guiding principles to communicate the overall scope and time horizon for the strategy.

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop.

Contact your account representative for more information

workshops@infotech.com

1-888-670-8889

Phase 2

Review Performance From Last Fiscal Year

Model of the four phases is shown, and lists activities for the highlighted phase. Phase 2 is highlighted

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • How to determine the business value from previous strategies.
  • How to analyze diagnostic data to review IT’s performance over the last fiscal year.
  • How to elicit other important data to communicate IT’s success over the last fiscal year.

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

To complete this phase, you will need:

Diagnostic Reports

Screenshot of Diagnostic Reports

Use the Diagnostic Reports as an input for the following activities:

  • IT Success Stories
  • Other Diagnostics Data (optional)

IT Strategy Presentation Template

Screenshot of first slide of IT Strategy Presentation Template

Use the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document the results from the following activities:

  • Business Value Realized
  • IT Success Stories
  • Additional Year-In-Review Data

Business value realized must be IT’s primary success factor for the year-in-review

It is important to show how IT contributed to the growth and success of the business over the last fiscal year. Gauge this value by identifying business goals from the previous fiscal year and the specific IT projects or initiatives that enabled each goal. Business value defines the success criteria of an organization and is interpreted from four perspectives:

  • Profit generation: The revenue generated from a business capability with a product that is enabled with modern technologies.
  • Cost reduction: The cost reduction when performing business capabilities with a product that is enabled with modern technologies.
  • Service enablement: The productivity and efficiency gains of internal business operations from products and capabilities enhanced with modern technologies.
  • Customer and market reach: The improved reach and insights of the business in existing or new markets.
Diagram of a business value matrix

2.1 Determine business value realized from last fiscal year

Objective: Remind and reflect on what the team has been through over the last year and create a collective experience.

60 minutes

Step 1:

  • Prepare by rolling out a long piece of paper (5-10 yards) on the floor or on a wall. Draw a timeline representing the period of the last fiscal year. Include dates and a few key events, but not more.
  • Have participants place sticky notes in spots to describe their milestones or experiences.

Step 2:

  • Ask participants to draw in elements of their experiences. They can include their highlights and lowlights of the journey as well as insights, emotional highs and lows, challenges, successes, frustrations, stories and surprises, situations, learnings, and anything else that meant something. Reflect back on the business value matrix and brainstorm specific milestones that supported the business.
  • Give enough time that the paper becomes as full as possible (about 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the group and length of the timeline).

Step 3:

  • After the map has been created, ask participants to walk around the map, reflecting in silence on the experiences they have shared. Ask them to begin thinking about the most important moments for them, individually. Give about five to ten minutes for this step.

Step 4:

  • Finally, get specific. As a group, identify and summarize the following on the map:
    • Specific business goals achieved by the experiences shared
    • IT goals and key accomplishments
    • IT projects/initiatives
    • Start and end dates for each initiative

Step 5:

  • Consider an alignment exercise based on where the sticky notes are placed on the timeline:
    • Business Goals > IT Projects/Initiatives
    • IT Goals > IT Projects/Initiatives
  • Document your final and agreed upon business value realized information in your IT Strategy Presentation Template under section 4.

2.1 Determine business value realized from last fiscal year

Tips for Online Facilitation

Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows you to use a large, zoomable canvas. Draw the timeline in the online whiteboard and invite participants to add to it throughout the exercise. Instead of placing a physical sticky note, have your team place a symbolic image or company logo while sharing. A GIF or meme might also work. If you’re using an online whiteboard tool such as Mural, you can use voting features such as Mural’s voting session tool when voting during the final step. If you’re not using an online whiteboard, we’d recommend using a collaboration tool such as Google Docs to collect the information for each step under a separate heading. Invite everyone into the document to share their ideas but be very clear in regard to editing rights. When facilitating group discussion, we recommend participants use non-verbal means to indicate they’d like to speak. You can use tools like Teams’ raise hand tool, a reaction emoji, or just have people put their hands up. The facilitator can then invite that person to talk.

Input

  • Business strategy document from previous fiscal
  • IT projects/initiatives from previous fiscal

Output

  • Business value realized
  • IT’s success in previous fiscal

Materials

  • Multicolored markers
  • Roll of paper
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template and document your mission and vision statements in section 4.

Diagnostic data is the key to building a data-driven strategy

Image shows a diagram to show how the diagnostic data is key to building data-driven-strategy

This section focuses on eliciting valuable information from three major diagnostics

Image shows three intertwined hexagons. One is labelled CEO-CIO Alignment, another is labelled Management & Governance. The last is labelled Business Vision

Bookend diagnostic launches to a fiscal year to measure and evaluate the impact of IT strategic initiatives

Image is a line with three circles on it. Each circle has text above it. The circle on the left is labelled Launch Diagnostics. The middle circle labelled Build Strategy. The one on the right is labelled Launch Diagnostics

Reflect on Action Plans & Integrate Into Strategy

Collecting and evaluating stakeholder feedback before building your strategy for the year ensures you are aligning to the organization’s top priorities and pain points and working on what matters most.

Be Transparent & Identify Challenges

Communicate the aggregate diagnostic data as the rationale for why your strategic plan includes certain initiatives and it will propel the business forward.

Highlight Success Stories

Any deltas in diagnostic data will be beneficial in communicating the success of your strategic efforts and the impact IT has had on stakeholders and the organization in the span of one year.

Click here to learn more about our diagnostics program

The CEO-CIO diagnostic helps align IT’s future with the business

Alignment has been a buzzword for decades. Among CIOs, alignment is hyped as the apex of effective IT and written off as jargon. Yet without the proper tools, CIOs are left to play a guessing game of what deliverables the business demands.

The CEO-CIO program will help you:

  • Understand the CEO's perception of and vision for IT in your business.
  • Identify and build core IT processes that automate IT-business alignment.
  • Create a plan to address alignment gaps impeding business growth.
  • Deliver your plan to demonstrate IT value and progress.

Instead of producing an endless list to add to your backlog, the program brings clarity to what IT priorities need to be, how they are defined, and how their success is measured. It creates a tangible path to alignment and all of its associated benefits.

Research reveals that companies with robust IT departments effectively aligned to business goals achieve higher growth compared to IT departments lacking alignment. For CIOs, effective alignment can be the tipping point in moving IT from supporting the business to enabling and transforming it.

Screenshot of CEO-CIO Alignment Program

Here are some critical insights to extract from the CEO-CIO report

Image of Maturity Ladder is shown.

Begin with understanding the role of IT at your organization and calculate the differential between actual and optimal:

For IT to serve as a valuable business partner, IT leaders must direct resources toward supporting and achieving business goals. A CEO functions as the primary business stakeholder. Not only does the CEO need to be consulted on these big-ticket items, but more importantly they must be understood. IT leaders ignore this reality at their own peril. Pay close attention to both the actual and optimal state to clarify IT’s mandate and current performance.

Consider communicating these insights

Last Fiscal Year Strategy Upcoming Year Strategy
Optimal Has IT moved the needle on its mandate from the previous launch of the diagnostic? Communicate this. Does a misalignment exist between the CIO’s and the CEO’s perception of IT’s mandate?
Actual Has there been any improvement in IT maturity since the previous diagnostic launch? Communicate this. Does IT’s current performance trigger any projects or initiatives for the upcoming year? Incorporate into strategy.

Enabling the business and satisfying stakeholders is THE mission of the IT department. The purpose of the annual Business Vision report is to collect and present stakeholder feedback.

Measuring importance and satisfaction data for core services enables priorities for the team based on what business departments and leaders expect. Once again, alignment is the key.

Consider communicating these insights

Last Fiscal Year Strategy Upcoming Year Strategy
Core Services Has IT managed to improve any core services that were high importance and low satisfaction? Communicate these. Do specific core services trigger projects or initiatives for the upcoming year? Incorporate into strategy.


Screenshot of Business Satisfaction and Importance for Core Services

The Management & Governance diagnostic highlights IT’s operational excellence

Image is IT Management & Government Framework

Consider communicating these insights:

Last Fiscal Year Strategy Upcoming Year Strategy
Core IT Processes Has IT managed to improve any core IT processes that were high importance and low effectiveness? Communicate these. Do specific core processes trigger projects or initiatives for the upcoming year? Incorporate into strategy.

2.2 Evaluate diagnostic data, establish differentials, and uncover success stories

Objective: Conduct a whiteboard rotation to add ideas freely and encourage collaborative storytelling of IT’s success stories.

60 minutes

  1. Establish digital whiteboards for as many diagnostic reports as needed. Post key data visuals from each diagnostic report that can be used to interpret results. Give participants whiteboard URLs, instructions, and other logistics.
  2. Participants visit each whiteboard to contribute assigned information: insights, opinions, differentials in data, etc. Recommendation: Assign a specific amount of time for the entire session, giving average times for each whiteboard, or create an announcement when participants must move on.
  3. Regroup as a larger group and discuss the following specifics to document:
    • Success stories from last fiscal year
    • Challenges successfully addressed and deltas in data
    • Reflections on action plans and strategic initiatives
    • Things to incorporate into the strategy for the upcoming year
    • Other insights from the data that are worth highlighting for IT’s success
  4. Evaluate which of these findings and analysis will be beneficial to highlight in the year-in-review section of your strategy and communicate IT’s performance and successes.
  5. Document your final and agreed upon outputs in your IT Strategy Presentation Template under section 4.
Source: Knowmium, 2020

Input

  • CEO-CIO Alignment data
  • Business Vision data
  • MGD data

Output

  • Success stories from last fiscal
  • Important data visuals to communicate

Materials

  • Whiteboards (virtual or physical) or poster boards
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template and document your mission and vision statements in section 4.

Additional data for year-in-review

Assessing diagnostic data is a great starting point to review IT performance over the last fiscal year. However, there maybe additional data that is worth analyzing to further highlight success stories and IT’s strategic efforts.

  1. METRICS
  2. Highlight KPIs, targets, and performance from last fiscal year.

  3. MAJOR INITIATIVES
  4. Communicate the value realized from IT completing major initiatives.

  5. BUDGET
  6. Evaluate budget details to uncover cost savings and revenue generators.

  7. OTHER DIAGNOSTICS (IF APPLICABLE)
  8. Based on major pain points from last year, launch additional diagnostics that can help communicate IT’s progress.

Metrics are critical to ensuring alignment of IT performance and business service value achievement

When reviewing performance from the last fiscal year, consider highlighting the following:

  • KPIs that directly align to IT and business goals that would’ve been featured in last year’s IT strategy document.
  • Targets that were set out for the team to ensure the success of each IT goal.
  • The actual performance of the IT team against the targets that were set.
  • Any differentials worth highlighting where IT surpassed targets and contributed to the overall success of the organization.

Focus on communicating business benefits when targets are achieved instead of IT benefits.

Image shows to focus on communicating business benefits when targets are achieved instead of IT benefits.

Communicate project impact from the perspective of sponsors and impacted users

Although KPIs and metrics are an effective measure of IT’s success, communicating the satisfaction of major initiatives from the POV of project sponsors and impacted users can augment the story told about benefits realization. Consider eliciting the following information about major projects:

  • Project description, objectives, and predicted outcomes
  • Target statements to describe each predicted outcome and whether that value was realized
  • Sponsor and impacted-user feedback and assessments on project importance, value delivered, training and communication, etc.

The goal here is to craft the communication around project/initiative impact from the perspective of business sponsors and end users who can advocate for IT’s contribution to the organization.

Visit the My Project Dashboard to get started on using scorecards.

This diagnostic performs a 180-degree assessment of a project’s impact. Present this diagnostic on a separate slide in your IT strategy. If the diagnostic is not performed, then highlight the measured achievement of the original targets of the project or a measure of the business sponsor satisfaction from the project.

Screenshots of Sponsor Scorecard and Impacted User Scorecard

Categorize your budget three ways to highlight IT spending

Image shows a Half circle labelled IT budget. On the half circle are three dots. The top dot is labelled business support. The middle dot is labelled IT excelled. The third dot is labelled Innovation.

Budget to Support Major Business Initiatives

This is likely the largest portion of IT’s budget given most strategic initiatives must align back to the business strategy.

Budget to Reduce Risk and Improve IT Operational Excellence

This portion of your budget must include spending to “keep the lights on” while targeting any additional operational excellence initiatives to improve the products and services IT offers.

Budget to Drive Technology Innovation

Ensure IT is always highlighting innovation as a key budget line item. This improves trust with the business that organizational enablement is IT’s #1 goal.

Business stakeholders care whether IT can complete projects on time and on budget

It is important to communicate IT’s success within the parameters set out for the strategic year. This include the timeline and budget within which IT promised to deliver.

Communicating a succinct story around budget will require financial data from the past two fiscal years:

  • Budgeted amount for the past fiscal year
  • Actuals from the past two fiscal years
  • Financials categorized by the type of initiative it supports (business support, IT excellence, innovation)

The goal is to communicate that IT kept the budget within X% +/- for the fiscal year. This is important when making the budget request for the upcoming strategic year and gives IT credibility with business stakeholders and/or the board.

The comparison of actuals from the past two fiscal years should validate IT’s ask for any budget increases.

The variance in budgeted vs. actuals ideally will communicate that IT is cost conscious.

A graph is displayed to show how time and budget relate in terms of costs of maintenance, business driven, and innovation.

Communicate any major pain points resolved with further stakeholder feedback

Image shows several photos with labels to show the major pain points and how to resolve them.

2.3 Compile and prioritize additional year-in-review data

Objective: Use dot voting to obtain consensus on decisions and/or data, by ranking a list of IT success stories to communicate in your strategy.

60 minutes

  1. Split into small groups and review all additional year-in-review data.
  2. Identify the following:
    • Success stories from last fiscal year
    • Challenges successfully addressed and deltas in data
    • Reflections on action plans and strategic initiatives
    • Things to incorporate into strategy for upcoming year
    • Other insights from the data that are worth highlighting for IT’s success
  3. Regroup as a larger group and share your findings and perspectives. Document one success story per sheet of paper and add it to the whiteboard.
  4. After creating a number of scenarios around success stories, provide each participant with a number of voting dots. Three to five dots is usually sufficient.
  5. Instruct each participant to use their dots to vote for the success stories most important to them. Participants can spread dots amongst multiple topics or put all dots on one topic.
  6. Tally up results to help guide and prioritize future discussion.
  7. Evaluate which of these findings and analyses will be beneficial to highlight in the year-in-review section of your strategy and communicate IT’s performance and successes.
  8. Document your final and agreed upon outputs in your IT Strategy Presentation Template under section 4.

Input

  • Metrics, KPI, targets
  • Major initiatives summaries
  • Financials
  • Optional diagnostic reports

Output

  • Success stories from last fiscal
  • Important data visuals to communicate

Materials

  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)
  • Sticky dots

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template and document your year-in-review data in section 4

2.4 Finalize your year-in-review

Your year-in-review section of the IT strategy deliverable helps communicate the value realized and the operational performance of your team.

Why is this important?

  • A retrospective approach to your team’s performance helps communicate the impact that IT has had toward the success of the organization.
  • It empowers your team and celebrates the value delivered by IT thus far.
  • It sets the course for the upcoming strategy by highlighting what your team is capable of.
  • It builds credibility with business stakeholders by showcasing how IT can be a strategic business partner.

Input information into the IT Strategy Presentation Template

Diagram shows a year in review.

Summary of Accomplishment

Review performance from last fiscal year

  • Analyzed and communicated the benefits and value realized from IT’s strategic initiatives in the past fiscal year.
  • Analyzed and prioritized diagnostic data insights to communicate IT success stories.
  • Elicited important retrospective information such as KPIs, financials, etc. to build IT’s credibility as a strategic business partner.

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop.

Contact your account representative for more information.

workshops@infotech.com

1-888-670-8889

Phase 3

Build Your Key Initiative Plan

Model of the four phases is shown, and lists activities for the highlighted phase. Phase 3 is highlighted

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • Elicit business context from the CIO & IT team
  • Identify key initiatives that support the business
  • Identify key initiatives that enable IT excellence
  • Identify initiatives that drive technology innovation
  • Build initiative profiles
  • Construct your strategy roadmap

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

To complete this phase, you will need:

Business Context Information

Screenshot of Business Context Information

Use the business context information as an input for the following activities:

  • Elicit Business Support Initiatives
  • Goals Cascade

IT Strategy Workbook

Screenshot of IT Strategy Workbook

Use the IT Strategy Workbook to document the results from the following activities:

  • Key Initiative Prioritization
  • Goals Cascade
  • Strategy Roadmap

Screenshot of IT Strategy Presentation

IT Strategy Presentation

Use the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document the results from the following activities:

  • Build Initiative Profiles
  • Build Initiative Profiles
  • Strategy Roadmap

Understanding the business context is a must for all strategic initiatives

CIOs must execute strategic initiatives to add value to the business. Most CIOs fail because of low support from the business.

IT is no longer seen as a support function. It is a key driver of the business and brings to the table new business expansion opportunities leveraging emerging technologies.

As a strategic driver, IT needs to work with the business. Yet traditionally IT has not worked hand in hand with the business. IT does not know what information it needs from the business to execute on its initiatives.

A faster time to new investment decisions means that IT needs a repeatable and efficient process to understand what the business needs.

At its core, each strategic IT project requires answers to a specific set of questions regarding the business.

An effective CIO understands how to support the business’ strategic initiatives and how to significantly improve enterprise productivity. To understand the business context, the CIO needs to ask pointed questions to uncover business imperatives.

What Is Business Context?

“The business context encompasses an understanding of the factors impacting the business from various perspectives, including how decisions are made and what the business is ultimately trying to achieve. The business context is used by IT to identify key implications for the execution of its strategic initiatives.”

Source: Business Wire, 2018

IT departments that understand business needs provide more value

IT departments that understand the business context provide greater value, as shown by the strong positive relationship between IT’s understanding of business needs and the business’ perception of IT value.

A graph is displayed to show the correlation between understanding of needs and IT value.
Source: Info-Tech Research Group diagnostic data

The CIO is responsible for eliciting the business context

A prerequisite to all strategic planning should be to elicit the business context from your business stakeholders. At a basic level, the CIO understands what questions to ask to understand the general business context. At a more advanced level, the CIO can discern which questions they need answers to for each key IT initiative and what those answers need to look like to be sufficient for execution. Consider the following methods to elicit the business context and uncover the right information to build your strategy.

Question Document(s)/Method Key Findings (Examples)
What is the mission of the organization?

Website Strategy

Document

  • Mission: Help our clients create long-lasting improvements by delivering exceptional service and products
What are your targets for the organization? CEO Interview
  • Double the enterprise EBITDA
  • Improve top-of-mind brand awareness by 15%
What are the organization’s strategic investment goals?

CFO Interview

Digital Strategy

  • Geographic expansion
  • List of digital investments
What are the goals of the organization over the next 12 months?

Strategy Document

Corporate Retreat Notes

  • Hire 100 new sales reps
  • Improve product management and marketing
What are your top business initiatives over the next 12 months?

Strategy Document

CEO Interview

  • Invest in sales team development
  • Expand the product innovation team
How do your top business initiatives support your business goals?

Strategy Document

CEO Interview

  • Unprecedented client value through product innovation
  • Acquire new accounts to build market footprint

Note: This is a prerequisite to building your IT strategy.

Visit Info-Tech’s business context blueprint to download the full methodology.

Document the business context in the IT Strategy Presentation Template

Documenting the business context results is the first step to communicating the alignment between the business and IT. Understanding the organization’s mission, vision, and corporate strategy is the key to aligning IT’s strategic direction with the business

Use a balanced scorecard or the IT Strategy Presentation Template, as shown on this slide, to measure the achievement of your strategy.

Example: Acme Corporation Strategic Plan

Example_ Acme Corporation Strategic Plan

3.1 Identify business context and business goals (pre-workshop)

Objective: Elicit the business context with careful review of all business and strategy documents.

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your list of business context documents. This includes business strategy documents, interview notes from executive stakeholders, and other sources for uncovering the business strategy.
  2. Make smaller groups of six people and assign one question to answer for each team. Give each group copies of all the input documents.
  3. Brainstorm in smaller groups answers to the question you were assigned:
    • What is the mission of the organization?
    • What are your targets for the organization?
    • What are the organization’s strategic investment goals?
    • What are the goals of the organization over the next 12 months?
    • What are your top business initiatives over the next 12 months?
    • How do your top business initiatives support your business goals?
  4. Discuss the questions with participants and document key findings. Share with the group and work through the balanced scorecard questions to complete this exercise.
  5. Document your findings in the IT Strategy Workbook.

Input

  • Business strategy documents
  • Executive stakeholder interviews

Output

  • Business goals
  • Business context information

Materials

  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Workbook to document your findings

Key initiatives in your IT strategy can be categorized in three ways

A diagram is shown of a half circle. Beside the circle it is labelled IT Key Initiative Plan. On the half circle are three dots. Each dot is labelled. The top one is business support. The middle one is labelled IT Excellence. The third is labelled innovation

Support Major Business Initiatives

Each corporate initiative is supported by a major IT project and each project has unique IT challenges that require IT support.

Reduce Risk and Improve IT Operational Excellence

These projects will increase IT process maturity and will systematically improve IT.

Drive Technology Innovation

These projects will improve future innovation capabilities and decrease risk by increasing technology maturity.

Info-Tech Insight

A CIO has three roles: enable business productivity, run an effective IT shop, and drive technology innovation. Your key initiative plan must reflect these three mandates and how IT strives to fulfill them.

Business support initiatives must be directly aligned to business context outputs

Each corporate initiative is supported by a major IT project and each project has unique IT challenges that require IT support. Eliciting business support initiatives also requires a closer look at IT’s current maturity and enabling projects.


Image has the half circle image labelled. 1. Business Support Initiatives

1a Support Corporate Projects

A forward-looking approach to supporting the business involves identifying the right capabilities that can underpin the coming year’s corporate projects.

1b Become a Better “Business Partner”

A retrospective approach to supporting the business involves a focus on improving IT’s maturity and stakeholder satisfaction as measured over the past year.

Use a goals cascade to strengthen IT’s alignment with the business goals

The cascade reveals business goals, streamlines the definition of IT priorities and processes necessary to achieve business goals, and identifies pain points that impede IT effectiveness. Keep in mind that goals and their respective importance will change over time. Revisit and refine the cascade annually.

Example of a goals cascade

Align business goals to capabilities by identifying value streams

Image shows the first part of the cascading goals. Three boxes are showing. Boxes are labelled from left to right_ Business Goals, Business Initiatives, and Business Capabilities.

Customize generic capability maps with assistance from our industry analysts.

Download Info-Tech’s Industry Capability Maps and schedule a call to get started.

IT will need to become involved in the business of their organization. The ability to quickly assess IT implications is paramount:

  • Learn about the fundamentals of your industry, including its ecosystem, influences, opportunities, and constraints.
  • Conduct PESTLE and SWOT analyses within the context of your industry, with guiding insights from Info-Tech, to understand unique implications for IT.
  • Devise a list of initiatives you can integrate into your IT strategic plan to transform the role IT plays in your organization.

Begin with understanding your industry’s generic value streams

Example Value Streams: Consulting Industry

Diagram example of value streams.

Value Streams Defined:

Value streams connect business goals to the organization’s value realization activities in the marketplace. Those activities are dependent on the specific industry segment in which an organization operates.

There are two types of value streams: core value streams and support value streams.

  • Core value streams are mostly externally facing. They deliver value to either an external or internal customer, and they tie to the customer perspective of the strategy map.
  • Support value streams are internally facing and provide the foundational support for an organization to operate.

An effective method for ensuring all value streams have been considered is to understand that there can be different end-value receivers.

Review the full capability map for your industry

Diagram of Industry Capability map

Business Capability Map Defined

In business architecture, the primary view of an organization is known as a business capability map.

A business capability defines what a business does to enable value creation, rather than how. Business capabilities:

  • Represent stable business functions.
  • Are unique and independent of each other.
  • Typically, will have a defined business outcome.

A business capability map provides details that help the business architecture practitioner direct attention to a specific area of the business for further assessment.

Assess your ecosystem and influencers to identify drivers of change in your industry

Know the factors and influencers at work in your industry’s value stream.

Identify and analyze the key drivers of change in your industry value streams.

Image has 2 charts with one on top of the other that give examples of key drivers of change in industry value streams

Download Info-Tech’s industry-specific Business-Aligned Strategy reports and schedule a call to get started

Info-Tech Insight

Knowledge of your current situation is only half the battle; knowledge of the business/industry is key.

Summarize and rank the drivers of change by cost and customer impact

A graph is displayed where it shows the relation between cost and customer impact. On the graph are four boxes. Bottom left is labelled lost cost and low customer impact. The box above it is labelled high cost and low customer impact. In the bottom right box is low cost and high customer impact. The top right box is labelled high cost and high customer impact.

Customize your capability map by incorporating high-value implications

Identify supporting and new capabilities to incorporate into your capability map based on the high-value drivers of change in your industry.


Diagram to show the capability map and incorporating high-value implications

Info-Tech Insight

Leave the PESTLE analysis to the business and let go of the SWOT analysis. It’s a new world where capabilities can be acquired as a service.

3.2.1 Customize your organization’s capability map

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy team and download your industry capability map.
  2. Begin with understanding your industry’s generic value streams and each vertical of capabilities under each value stream.
  3. Assess your ecosystem and influencers to identify drivers of change in your industry. Answer the questions that identify key drivers of change in your industry value streams.
  4. Summarize and rank the drivers of change by cost and customer impact.
  5. Identify supporting and new capabilities to incorporate into your capability map based on the high-value drivers of change in your industry.
  6. Document your findings and customize the generic capability map with new and supporting capabilities for your organization.

Customize generic capability maps with the assistance of our industry analysts.

Input

  • Business context (business goals, initiatives, capabilities)
  • Generic capability map
  • Diagnostic data

Output

  • Customized Capability Map

Materials

  • Generic capability map
  • Diagnostic reports
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download Info-Tech’s Industry Capability Maps and schedule a call to get started.

Take best advantage of your industry benchmarking & roundtable experiences

With 36 planned experiences in each industry sector every year, how you participate is up to you.

THE FULL EXPERIENCE

Read all the research, talk to the analysts, do all the benchmarks, and attend all the roundtables.

PEER PARTICIPATION

Attend our monthly Executive Industry Roundtables to share insights and learn best practices from your peers on the hottest topics relevant to your industry.

DO-IT-YOURSELF

Choose to read the published research and act on your own using our step-by-step written guidance.

INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING

Take the Industry Benchmarking Track for data-based insights on how you differ from others in your industry. Every three months the Executive Industry Roundtables will focus on insights gleaned from the thousands of diagnostics we execute each year, from Stakeholder Satisfaction and Process Improvement to IT Staffing and Spending. Then we’ll create a custom benchmark report just for you.

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Work virtually with one of our industry analysts to understand the key insights in the published research and customize your experience.

INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS

Don’t have time to attend all 36 experiences? Let your executive advisor build a custom Key Initiative Plan that will guide you through the essential experiences customized to your environment.

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp. elicited business context to identify the organizational goals and initiatives and to customize its capability map.

Example case study from Acme Corp. It shows the flowchart of working from business goals to business initiatives, then ending at business capabilities.

Identify the business capabilities where IT can have the most impact

Image is two boxes with a line in-between them labelled support. The left box is labelled business capabilities, the right box is labelled IT capabilities

Consider the business capabilities most important to achieving the business goals. Where is IT contributing effectively today and where does IT see opportunity to do more?


Download Info-Tech’s Industry Capability Maps to get started.

Brainstorm IT initiatives to enable high areas of opportunity to support the business

Image is two boxes with a line in-between them labelled create or improve. The left box is labelled IT capabilities, the right box is labelled IT initiatives

Capabilities are what a business does to enable value creation, rather than how. Initiatives are projects with a definitive start and end date, and they enhance, create, maintain, or remove capabilities.

Brainstorm IT initiatives using the framework below for each IT capability that provides a high area of opportunity for IT support.

The framework has three overlapping circles. The circles are labelled_ Process, Technology, and Organization

Supporting the business requires a closer look at IT’s current maturity

Image shows IT maturity ladder

A retrospective approach to supporting the business involves a focus on improving IT’s maturity and stakeholder satisfaction. Refer back to CEO-CIO Alignment data to identify specific initiatives that will help IT achieve its target state.

Answer these questions to determine initiatives

Upcoming Year Strategy
Optimal Does a misalignment exist between the CIO’s and the CEO’s perception of IT’s mandate?
Actual Does IT’s current performance trigger any projects or initiatives for the upcoming year? Incorporate these into the strategy.
Source: Info-Tech, Business Vision Diagnostic

Consider low-performing core services that can also uncover initiatives

An example is shown to plot all core services by importance and satisfaction data.
A graph is shown that takes the low-performing core services from the chart above and how it should be ranked in terms of priority
Source: Diagnostic analysis of business satisfaction scores

3.2.2 Brainstorm and document your IT initiatives to support the business

Objective: Leverage breakout discussions to dive into business support initiatives and brainstorm business support initiatives.

60 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your IT initiatives.
  2. Break into small groups and give each group one value stream. Identify and highlight the high areas of opportunity on the capability map.
  3. Assign an equal number of business goals/initiatives to each smaller group. Groups will be given 30 minutes. Each discussion group will cover a pre-identified business goal/initiative.
  4. Select a note taker and a spokesperson. Groups should be prepared to share answers with the larger group.
  5. Work backwards to figure out the necessary actions to achieve the goal and the necessary capabilities to achieve it. Brainstorm process, technology, and organizational initiatives that are required to maintain, create, enhance, or remove specific IT capabilities.
  6. Be succinct. Each initiative should be an actionable statement.
  7. Prioritize the initiatives by considering if the initiative is something you feel will make an impact on the business goal/initiative. Eliminate any initiatives that will not make an impact.
  8. Collect insights over difficulties that might be encountered, steps that need to be taken, and resources needed to achieve the goal.

Note: Goals, capabilities, and initiatives will most likely have a many-to-many relationship at this stage. Ensure your alignment activity provides clarity and insight into why and how you chose business support initiatives for your strategy.

  • Review the CEO-CIO Alignment and Business Vision reports and identify initiatives based on the following:
    • IT’s target maturity and initiatives that will help achieve target state
    • Low-performing core services

Document your findings in the IT Strategy Workbook and build your goals cascade visual.

3.2.2 Brainstorm and document your IT initiatives to support the business (cont.)

Input

  • Business context (business goals, initiatives, capabilities)
  • IT capability map
  • Diagnostic data

Output

  • IT initiatives
  • Goals cascade

Materials

  • Capability maps
  • Diagnostic reports
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Workbook and document your goals cascade in tab 2.

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp. identified eight initiatives to support the business.

Image has the half circle image labelled. 1. Business Support Initiatives

1a Enable Corporate Projects

  • Implement LMS system
  • Implement HRIS system
  • Improve web portal for product X
  • Enable multi-factor authentication
  • Develop services website portal

1b Become a Business Partner

  • Improve alignment and communication between CEO and CIO on target state (achieve target maturity)
  • Improve data quality (address low-performing service)
  • Improve capability reporting (address low-performing service)

To reduce risk and improve IT operations, identify the most-important and least-effective processes to evolve

Image has the half circle image labelled_ 2 IT Excellence

Evolve IT Process Maturity

A current-state analysis approach to improving IT operations involves a focus on identifying the importance and effectiveness of our core IT process in the current state.

Low-maturity processes can be evolved with remediation through process, technology, or organizational initiatives.

Image shows three chevrons. From left to right they are labelled_ Identify low-maturity IT processes, Prioritize based on effectiveness and importance, and Formulate IT excellence initiatives

Refer to the Management & Governance diagnostic to identify priority IT processes

Screenshot of Management & Governance diagnostic

Evaluate which processes your team disagreed on the most. Determine if overall disagreement is high or low. Conduct a team exercise to discuss disagreements and build alignment. Work with your team to ensure processes have clear ownership and accountability is reasonably distributed across your team. See individual respondent scores for each process as well as their involvement. Use this to facilitate a conversation with the team and build consensus around performance and the priority level of each process.

Prioritize processes as initiatives to enable IT excellence

Once you’ve reviewed the MGD report, plot processes by their importance and effectiveness scores. Highlight any processes that are high importance and low effectiveness.


The IT Management and Governance Framework is displayed. Beside it is an example of a graph that highlights any processes that are high importance and low effectiveness
Source: Info-Tech, Management & Governance Diagnostic

Brainstorm IT initiatives to improve core processes

Brainstorm IT initiatives for each high-priority process using the framework below. Describe each initiative as a plan or action to take to solve the problem.

Diagram is shown on how to brainstorm initiatives to improve core processes

3.2.3 Identify and document your IT initiatives to enable IT excellence

Objective: Use visuals to map out or articulate a particular issue, with emphasis on core steps within a process.

30 minutes

  1. Review the MGD report and identify initiatives based on the following:
    • High importance
    • Low effectiveness
  2. Split into smaller groups and provide each group with their own low-maturity process from the diagnostic report.
  3. Have participants identify all steps in the process and write them out on sticky notes.
  4. Ask participant to flip over the paper, and draw out the problem as they would explain it to a peer.
  5. Have each participant or group present and explain drawing to the team.
  6. Have each team answer the following questions for problematic areas of the process:
    • What steps in the process must be created, changed, or removed based on your drawing?
    • What initiatives are required to manage people, data, and other organizational factors that are impacted by this process?
    • What systems are required to improve this process?
  7. Identify process, technology, and organizational initiatives that are required to improve low-maturity processes.
  8. Document your findings in the IT Strategy Workbook.

Input

  • MGD data

Output

  • IT initiatives

Materials

  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)
  • Flip chart/sheets of paper
  • Markers

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp. identified initiatives to enable IT excellence.

Image has the half circle image labelled. 2. IT Excellence

Low-Maturity Processes:

  • IT Strategy
  • Quality Management
  • Requirements Gathering

IT Excellence Initiatives:

  • Improve communication of IT strategy
  • Improve automated testing
  • Standardize and improve Agile requirements gathering

To drive technology innovation, focus on identifying industry and technology drivers that will have the most impact

Image has the half circle image labelled. 3. Innovation

Drive Technology Innovation

An industry-focused approach to driving technology innovation enables IT to look beyond what the business currently needs from us and take a proactive approach to how IT can propel the business forward and offer the company a competitive advantage.

Image has 4 chevrons. They are labelled from left to right_ Identify areas of high business investment, Understand the art of the possible with industry and technology trends research, Identify & prioritize use cases using industry reference architectures, and Formulate IT innovation initiatives.

See where the CEO wants to invest in technology innovation

Begin with understanding the appetite for innovation technology, why the business wants to innovate, and should the business adopt these technologies in the next three to five years? *Projects or initiatives that drive technology innovation must always be an explicit category in strategic planning.

Consider communicating these insights

Last Fiscal Year Strategy Upcoming Year Strategy
Tech Adoption Has IT moved the needle on any technology innovation areas that were surfaced last year? Which business goals did they support? Communicate these. Do specific innovation drivers trigger projects or initiatives for the upcoming year? Incorporate these into the strategy.

Screenshot of CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic

Source: Info-Tech, CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic

Leverage industry roundtables and trend reports to understand the art of the possible

Uncover important business and industry trends that can inform IT’s possibilities for technology innovation. Explore trends in:

  • Budgeting
  • Staffing, Hiring & Retention
  • Senior Leadership & CIO Alignment
  • IT Capacity & Satisfaction
  • Critical Performance Areas
  • Creating new options from disruptive effects
  • And much more…

Market research is critical in identifying factors external to your organization and identifying technology innovation that will provide a competitive edge. It’s important to evaluate the impact each trend or opportunity will have in your organization and market. IT must be the driving force to recommending and enabling this change.

Visit Info-Tech’s Industry Coverage Research to get started.

There are two screenshots, one is from Info-Tech's Hospital Innovation Report, the other from the 2021 Tech Trends Report

Images are from Info-Tech’s Hospital Innovation Report and 2021 Tech Trends Report

Identify innovation use cases by leveraging your industry capability map

Your previously customized capability map also offers great insight into where innovation can be most impactful for your organization.

  • Begin by identifying and prioritizing the value streams that provide the most potential and value for innovation.
  • Single out capabilities that are strong and have high maturity at your organization. This activity helps determine where technology innovation thrives but also surfaces constraints within your organization where innovation might not be viable.
  • Elicit use cases based on high-priority capabilities.

A business capability defines what a business does to enable value creation, rather than how.

A use case is a behavior of the system that produces a measurable result of value to an actor.

Example of Industry Capability Map

Prioritize use cases based on value and potential

A graph is displayed as an example of prioritizing use cases based on value and potential.

Business demand for new technology is creating added pressure to innovate. If IT is not viewed as a source of innovation, its perceived value will decrease and the threat of shadow IT will grow.

Strong foundational knowledge on business and technology trends will result in identifying specific use cases that could offer your organization a competitive edge.

Remember to:

  • Identify and capitalize on opportunities for IT-led innovation.
  • Prioritize ideas and prototype solutions that will fuel organizational success.
  • Establish and formalize an effective IT-led innovation process.
  • Prioritize use cases that offer high value to the organization while still promising high potential within the constraints of your IT organization.

Visit Info-Tech’s Kick-Start IT-Led Business Innovation blueprint to download the full methodology.

Define IT initiatives to drive technology innovation

Brainstorm IT initiatives for each high-priority use case using the framework below. Describe each initiative as a plan or action to take to arrive at the use-case outcome.

Diagram on brainstorming initiatives for each high-priority use case

3.2.4 Identify and document your IT initiatives to enable technology innovation

Objective: Identify, organize, and structure initiatives, and leverage the $100 test exercise to determine the value of and prioritize innovation initiatives.

60 minutes

Gather the IT strategy creation team.

Step 1: Identify innovation initiatives

  1. Review diagnostic report data and other trends research and identify the following:
    • Your organization’s appetite for technology innovation
    • Areas of high investment for the business
    • High-impact use cases based on trends and industry research
  2. Leverage your organization’s capability map to brainstorm specific use cases and plot them on the 2X2 matrix based on the value they could provide to the business and their potential to success based on your organization’s constraints.
  3. Brainstorm respective initiatives to include in your key initiative plan.

Note: Use cases are behaviors of the system that produce a measurable result of value to an actor. Initiatives are projects with a definitive start and end date, and they enhance, create, maintain, or remove capabilities.

Step 2: The $100 Test

  • Prioritize use cases with high-potential value and automation.
  • Explain to each group that they have a maximum of $100 to spend on a pre-existing list of innovation initiatives. Dollar values should be assigned to items based on their importance and groups will need to prepare a rationale for their decision.
  • Remind the group to ignore the literal cost or effort associated with the item or initiative. The primary issue here is importance.
  • Each group will create a chart with two columns. On the left-hand side, record each initiative that has been evaluated; on the right, record the dollar amount allocated to each item.
  • When each group has completed the chart, compare and discuss the results and reasoning.

Document your findings in the IT Strategy Workbook.

3.2.4 Identify and document your IT initiatives to enable technology innovation (cont.)

Input

  • Organization’s appetite for innovation and areas of investment
  • Industry and market roundtables and technology trends
  • Industry capability map

Output

  • Innovation initiatives

Materials

  • Diagnostic and trend reports
  • 2X2 matrix
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template and document your innovation initiatives

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp. identified initiatives to drive technology innovation.

Image has the half circle image labelled. 3. Innovation

High-Priority Use Cases:

  • Enable employee mobility through mobilizing business processes
  • Fully automate expense billing process

Innovation Initiatives:

  • Acquire mobility suite to secure mobile apps
  • Acquire RPA platform
  • Train on RPA platform

Consolidate projects into IT initiatives where needed

Example shows two pictures of consolidating projects into IT initiatives.

Note: Use this step if the brainstorming activity resulted in too many granular projects on the list instead of high-level initiatives.

Use an affinity mapping approach to roll up individual projects or initiatives into major IT programs. A project represents a single body of work or solutions while a program will be a collection of similar projects that achieve the same end outcome. Programs are key to establish IT’s overall strategic goals and should be the focus or highlight of your strategic plan.

Affinity Mapping:

  • Gather all projects and solutions brainstormed from previous activities (regardless of their size).
  • Start to group them by similarity or the end outcome that they support.
  • If they are initiative level, ensure they are moved to the top of the affinity map to represent the overall theme.
  • If they are smaller projects, ensure they are categorized under the appropriate initiative name or brainstorm a name that fits the category if one does not exist.
  • At the end of this activity, you should be left with an affinity map that showcases your key IT initiatives that will be represented on your roadmap and the individual projects that support it (which will be used by your IT team to execute).

Conduct a second round of prioritization (where needed) to determine your final list of strategic initiatives

Leverage tab 3 in the IT Strategy Workbook to conduct a second level of prioritization.

Remember that alignment back to business goals was only conducted for the business support initiatives. Therefore, this prioritization effort ensures IT excellence and innovation initiatives put forward still support the organization’s business strategy and helps to streamline the number of initiatives that make it to your final strategy.

For all initiatives, determine the following and articulate your findings to business stakeholders in the formal strategy presentation:

  • Does the IT initiative support a particular business goal? If yes, document the level of alignment back to each business goal (high, medium, low, N/A).
  • Brainstorm and document the value of each initiative under the Value Statements column.

This exercise will help determine the order of priority for all initiatives based on their alignment back to business goals and help pick the top 12-15 initiatives that require attention in the next 12 months.

Screenshot of IT Strategy Workbook Tab 3

Frame IT goals that will resonate with your team

An effective way to identify your IT goals is to reverse-engineer your key initiatives into high-level themes that will resonate and empower your IT organization.

Diagram of reverse engineering key initiatives into high-level themes

Identifying IT goals is the last step in your goals cascade

Diagram of goals cascade is shown, and the box IT Goals is highlighted

IT goals are high-level, specific objectives that the IT organization needs to achieve to reach the target state.

IT goals begin a process of framing what IT as an organization needs to be able to do in the target state.

IT goals will help identify the target-state IT capabilities and the initiatives that will need to be implemented to enable those capabilities.

3.2.5 Identify your IT goals

Objective: Leverage card sorting to gather, organize, and structure initiatives, and leverage storyboarding to provide visioning and big-picture views to elicit IT goals.

60 minutes

Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your IT initiatives.

Step 1: Card Sorting

  • On each card, include an initiative and a description that is succinct but contains enough information to describe what the initiative is.
  • Shuffle the deck and hand to the team. Describe the challenge and have the team sort the cards into groups that flow together.
  • The group should decide together on names and themes for each grouping.

Step 2: Storyboarding

  • After the card sorting exercise is conducted, similar initiatives should be grouped into themes. Give each theme a name and give each smaller group one theme to work on.
  • Identify your specific theme to be reviewed, e.g. “Your ideal vision of a help desk is...”
  • Provide individuals (or teams) with white paper and markers. Instruct them to draw their ideal state, using pictures, words, etc.
  • Participants can use multiple sheets of paper to draw processes, steps, or components of their ideal vision.
  • Have teams present their stories. Capture themes, insights, and “a-ha” moments.

Step 3: Finalize IT Goals

  • Read the IT goals slide (previous slide) to understand the characteristics of an IT goal. Review the examples on the previous slides with your team if you do not know where to begin.
  • Using the themes and storyboarding exercises outputs, create an IT goal that encompasses each of these implications. As well, create IT goals that achieve the vision and mission statements.
  • Continue the process until you are satisfied that the themes of IT implications and vision and mission statements are covered by the goals.
  • Document your findings in the IT Strategy Workbook.

3.2.5 Identify your IT goals (cont.)

Input

  • IT initiatives
  • IT goals definition

Output

  • IT goals

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)
  • 4x6 recipe/index cards (multiple colors)
  • Flip chart paper
  • Markers
  • Large table space

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Workbook and document your IT goals in tab 2 to complete your goals cascade.

Align with the business through the goals cascade visual

Screenshot of goals cascade from Info-Tech's IT Strategy Presentation Template

Use this personalized cascade as your guideline for strengthening IT's alignment with business goals. The cascade reveals business goals, streamlines the definition of IT priorities and processes necessary to achieve business goals, and identifies pain points that impede IT effectiveness. Refine the results with your CEO and remember not to use the cascade mechanically. Keep in mind that goals and their respective importance will change over time. Revisit and refine the cascade annually.

Consider communicating these insights

Last Fiscal Year Strategy Upcoming Year Strategy
Goals Cascade When comparing to last year’s diagnostic report, how many critical pain points did IT address through strategic planning? How many goals/priorities were addressed in last fiscal’s strategy? Communicate these. Do specific priorities, processes and pain points trigger projects or initiatives for the upcoming year? Incorporate these into the strategy.

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp’s goals cascade:

Acme Corps Goals cascade

Create initiative profiles for each high-priority initiative on your strategy

An example of creating initiatives profiles for each high priority initiative

Build a roadmap to visualize your key initiative plan

Visual representations of data are more compelling than text alone.

The roadmap is likely the best and most direct way to showcase your ideas to business leadership – take advantage of it.

Develop a high-level document that travels with the initiative from inception through executive inquiry to project management, and finally to execution. Understand an initiative’s key elements that both IT and the business need defined and that are relatively static over its lifecycle.

Initiatives are the waypoints along a roadmap leading to the eventual destination, each bringing you one step closer. Like steps, initiatives need to be discrete: able to be conceptualized and discussed as a single, largely independent item. Each initiative must have three characteristics:

  • Specific outcome: Describe an explicit change in the people, processes, or technology of the enterprise.
  • Target end date: When the described outcome will be in effect.
  • Owner: Who on the IT team is responsible for executing on the initiative.

Example of a roadmap using the sunshine diagram

Info-Tech Insight

Don’t project your vision three to five years into the future. Deep dive on next year’s big-ticket items instead.

Illustrate the execution of IT initiatives using roadmaps

Info-Tech recommends two different methods to roadmap the IT initiatives in your IT strategy.

Gantt Chart

Example Gantt chart is displayed

This type of roadmap depicts IT initiatives, the associated goals, and exact start and end dates for each initiative. This diagram is useful for outlining a larger number of IT initiatives and for its easily digestible and repeatable format.

Sunshine Diagram

Example of a sunshine diagram

This type of roadmap depicts goals and their associated IT initiatives. The start and end dates for initiatives are approximated based on years. This diagram is useful for highlighting key IT initiatives and fitting them all on one page.

Bundle your initiatives for clarity and manageability

In working through this methodology, you’ve already evaluated which category each initiative aligns to. Make sure to carry forward this categorization in your roadmap to allow for better communication of where IT plans to focus and how this impacts the business.

  • Business stakeholders will focus on initiatives aligned to support key strategic projects and IT’s innovation initiatives.
  • IT stakeholders will focus on initiatives that can lead to their team’s excellence and success.

You need to be able to explain the outcome of the project in terms that non-IT workers can appreciate. This is done by working as far up the goals cascade as you have defined, which gets to the underlying business outcome that the initiative supports.

Note: Ruthlessly evaluate if an initiative should stand alone or can be rolled up with another. Fewer initiatives increases focus and alignment, allowing for better communication.

Screenshot of IT Strategy Workbook

3.4.1 Build your roadmap

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and open the IT Strategy Workbook to tab 5.
  2. Discuss with the IT strategy creation team if the IT strategy should contain the Gantt chart or the sunshine diagram or both.

For the Gantt chart:

  • Input the Roadmap Start Year date.
  • Change the months and year in the Gantt chart to reflect the same roadmap start year.
  • Populate the planned start and end dates for the pre-populated list of high-priority initiatives.

Document your final roadmap visual in your IT Strategy Presentation Template.

Input

  • IT initiatives
  • Initiative start and end dates
  • Initiative category

Output

  • IT strategy roadmap visual

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Workbook to document your findings

3.4.2 Build your sunshine diagram

Objective: Build a summary visual used to capture strategic initiatives over time, using themes and timelines.

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and review your list of key initiatives.
  2. Work with the team to identify key themes and directions.
  3. Build model with “rays” radiating out from a central theme or objective.
  4. Using curved arcs, break the grid into timeline periods.
  5. Work with the team to map goals identified in brainstorming activity to plot against timelines and key themes.
  6. Document your findings in the IT Strategy Presentation Template.

Input

  • IT initiatives
  • Initiative start and end dates
  • Initiative category

Output

  • Sunshine diagram visual

Materials

  • Flip chart paper/whiteboard
  • Markers

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to customize your sunshine diagram.

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp’s Roadmap and Sunshine Diagram:

Screenshot of Acme Corp's roadmap and sunshine diagram

Finalize your key initiative plan

Your key initiative plan section of the IT Strategy Presentation Template helps develop and communicate an impactful plan of action for IT’s strategic goals.

Why is this important? It helps you:

  • Show alignment to the business using an end-to-end goals cascade approach.
  • Improve IT’s own maturity by accommodating strategic projects that will result in higher process and operational success.
  • Institutionalize the ongoing exploration and evaluation of new technologies by IT to place them in the proper enterprise context.
  • Socialize the roadmap early and often; take an iterative and interactive rather than a monolithic and dictatorial approach.

Diagram of key initiative plan

Input information into the IT Strategy Presentation Template

Summary of Accomplishment

Build your key initiative plan

  • Elicited business context from the CIO and IT team.
  • Identified key initiatives that support the business.
  • Identified key initiatives that enable IT excellence.
  • Identified initiatives that drive technology innovation.
  • Built initiative profiles.
  • Constructed your strategy roadmap visual.

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop

Contact your account representative for more information.

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Phase 4

Define Your Operational Strategy

Model of the four phases is shown, and lists activities for the highlighted phase. Phase 4 is highlighted

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • Establish Governance
  • Evaluate Budget
  • Evaluate Organizational Changes
  • Build Functional Support Roadmaps
  • Finalize Your IT Strategy

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

To complete this phase, you will need:

Your Key Initiative Plan

Three screenshots from the Key Initiative Plan are shown.

Use the key initiative plan built in phase 3 as an input for the following activities:

  • Establish Governance
  • Evaluate Budget
  • Evaluate Organizational Changes
  • Build Functional Support Roadmaps

IT Strategy Presentation Template

Screenshot of IT Strategy Presentation Template is shown

Use the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document the results from all activities conducted in this phase and to present to business and IT stakeholders.

Your operational strategy is IT facing

While business stakeholders care about what IT is working on and when they can expect it, your IT team will be asking the question of how to get the work done and reach the target state. Ensure IT can deliver what they promise by building a strong operational strategy.

“Operational strategies [refer] to the methods companies use to reach their objectives. By developing operational strategies, a company can examine and implement effective and efficient systems for using resources, personnel and the work process.”

Source: Chron.com, 2019

Diagram shows relation of planning and execution

Your operational strategy is key to execution


Lists the operational strategy_ 1. Governance, 2. Organizational Changes, 3. Budget, and 4. Functional Roadmaps

Establish governance practices to ensure the success of your team

IT governance sets direction through prioritization and decision making and monitors overall IT performance. Governance aligns with the mission and vision of the organization to guide IT.

Governance is performed in three ways:

Evaluate

Governance ensures that business goals are achieved by evaluating stakeholder needs, criteria, metrics, portfolio, risk, and definition of value.

Direct

Governance sets the direction of IT by delegating priorities and determining the decisions that will guide the IT organization.

Monitor

Governance establishes a framework to monitor performance, compliance to regulation, and progress on expected outcomes.

In this section, we will cover stakeholder management, risk management, and establishing metrics and targets as a minimum effort to establish strategic governance.

Info-Tech Insight

Developing an IT strategy is a wasted effort if no mechanisms are put in place to govern the journey.

Visit Info-Tech’s Improve IT Governance blueprint to download the full methodology.

IT must commit to frequent and effective stakeholder communication

For each business support initiative, evaluate and identify the following:

Diagram shown on frequent and effective stakeholder communication

4.1.1 Establish stakeholder communication

Objective: Build an effective stakeholder communication program.

60 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your IT initiatives.
  2. Brainstorm in smaller groups.
  3. Assign one initiative to each group and answer the following questions for each:
    • Which are the key IT teams involved?
    • Which stakeholder groups are impacted by this initiative?
    • Who is the primary contact within each impacted stakeholder group?
    • What communication methods are most effective for each business contact?
  4. Share in the larger group and assign a notetaker to document in the Workbook.

Input

  • IT initiatives
  • IT teams and stakeholders

Output

  • Impacted stakeholders and business contacts
  • Communication methods

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings.

Case Study

INDUSTRY: Professional Services

COMPANY: Acme Corp.

Acme Corp’s Stakeholder Management Approach:

Acme Corp's Stakeholder Management Approach

Create a strategy for managing and mitigating risks for your key initiatives

Take a proactive stance against IT threats and vulnerabilities by identifying and assessing IT’s greatest risks before they occur and have serious implications. This is important information needed for the business to trust that IT is going to deliver on strategic priorities and to be aware of the risks IT will be mitigating vs. accepting. After all, IT risk is business risk. Every IT risk has business implications. Create an IT risk management program that shares accountability with the business.

Image shows a diagram for the risks and includes definitions for_ Identify Strategic Risk, Assess Strategic Risk, Respond to High Priority Risks, and Govern & Manage Risks

Track progress towards IT goals with effective metrics and targets in place

Refer to IT Goals Defined

Refer back to the IT goals defined in the first section of your operational strategy. IT goals can also be referred to IT’s critical success factors that must be met to reach your strategic vision. Consider them the starting point to determine which metrics you want to track.

Identify Metrics to Align to Each IT Goal

Determine which metrics will be appropriate for your organization and prepare for reporting. Look for potential problems or areas for improvement and plan for capacity growth/contraction depending on expected changes to system demand, strategic projects, and so on.

Identify Target and Reports

Progress towards IT goals must be tracked through realistic and actionable targets that your team can deliver on. Spend your time where you can have the greatest impact.

Create Effective Communication in Your Strategy

Document your metrics and targets in your IT Strategy Presentation Template along with the alignment back to IT goals.

4.1.2 Identify metrics and targets

Objective: Identify metrics and targets that will help track your team’s progress towards your strategic goals.

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your IT goals. Break out into smaller random groups (as many groups as the number of IT goals you have).
  2. Assign one goal to each group and brainstorm the following:
    • Key metrics (2-3 per goal)
    • Targets (1 per key metric)
  3. Identify key metrics for each goal. Consider metrics that:
    • Are related to critical business services, functions, or corporate goals
    • Address known/visible pain points for the business
    • Were designed for supportive or influential stakeholders
  4. Identify corresponding targets for each metric. Identify an initial service objective based on one or more of the following options:
    • Realistic and achievable by your team
    • Easy to measure and track
    • Establish an initial target using historical data and trends of performance
    • Establish an initial target based on stakeholder-identified requirements and expectations
  5. Prioritize one metric that is of highest value for each goal. Share in the larger group and assign a note taker to document in the IT Strategy Presentation Template.

Input

  • IT goals
  • IT teams and stakeholders

Output

  • Metrics
  • Targets

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings

Evaluate any resourcing changes required to support your strategy

Part of your operational strategy is identifying how your key initiatives will impact the way your team currently operates. The CIO and the IT organization establish the appropriate IT operating model after strategic planning is complete. The organizational structure determines how teams will be structured and staffed to deliver services to consumers in the most appropriate way.

What is organizational structure?

The arrangement of lines of authority, rights, communications, and duties of an organization. The structure determines how the roles, power, and responsibilities are assigned, controlled, and coordinated across the IT organization.

Evaluate the organizational structure to encourage collaboration and to develop the culture to deliver the relevant services

Organization Structure flowchart

At the minimum, you must evaluate how strategic changes will require augmenting your current organizational structure. For smaller organizations, analyzing FTEs required and changes in reporting structure will suffice. However, the more transformative your strategy is, the more it will require looking into augmenting your operating model or redesigning your IT organizational structure to deliver effectively.

Organizational design:

  • The standardized and wide scope of work lends itself well to having functional groups and domain-driven silos in which the teams can focus on delivering or supporting one or more foundational and common services.
  • For foundational services, success should be measured by IT metrics specific to the services being delivered.

Roles, responsibilities, and competencies:

  • The people in these groups benefit from having analytical, linear, and specialized skills in the domain of the foundational or common service.
  • The main responsibilities for the individual/team managing the foundational services should be to ensure the consistent and high-quality delivery of the services.

Success measurement:

  • For common services, success should be measured through a combination of business and IT metrics that indicate the service contribution to business value.

Visit Info-Tech’s Redesign Your Organizational Structureblueprint and Optimize the IT Operating Model blueprint for additional information.

Identify resourcing information that supports the IT strategy

It’s important to communicate to your team who will be supporting strategic initiatives and how. Ensure there is alignment back to your key initiatives when you propose any changes to the existing resource structure.

Key Initiatives Additional Resource Requirements Functional Area of IT Alignment to Corporate Goals
Implement Automated Testing QA Analyst Web Team Operations
Build Product Web Portal UX Designer Creative Team Revenue Driven
Acquire RPA Platform N/A N/A Cost Efficient
Implement HRIS System Developer Web Team Cost Efficient
Improve Data Quality N/A N/A Operations

Structure follows strategy – how your organization is designed will dictate how it behaves. It is the key enabler of your strategic direction. Map corporate drivers to department-level resources to show how changes in IT’s resourcing structure can benefit the organization.

Identify changes required to reporting structure based on resourcing changes

An example flowchart is shown on identifying changes required to reporting structure based on resourcing changes

4.2 Identify organizational changes required

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your IT goals.
  2. Brainstorm the implications of your IT strategy initiatives on your organizational structure. Specifically:
    • Resource addition requirements for each initiative (if any)
    • Functional areas of IT that the resource is required in
    • Alignment back to corporate goals for each key initiative that shows the % of IT support for each corporate goal
  3. Brainstorm any changes to reporting structure brought on by additional resource requirements.
    • Where in the IT organization will existing resources need to transition to?
    • What are their roles during the transition?

Document your findings in the IT Strategy Presentation Template.

Input

  • IT initiatives
  • IT team and current resourcing

Output

  • Changes to resourcing (in FTEs)
  • Changes to reporting structure

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Calculate the incremental cost of each key initiative

Each key initiative has already been categorized under one of the following buckets. Carry this categorization forward for your budget as well.

  1. Business Support
  2. IT Excellence
  3. Innovation

Incremental cost of key initiatives is calculated by identifying the following costs for each initiative:

  1. Labor
  2. Costs associated with the members of a particular organization who perform work. Brainstorm cost for number of resources and skill set required.

  3. Systems
  4. Costs associated with purchasing, developing, integrating, or maintaining any new systems or applications.

  5. Contracts
  6. Costs associated with contract workers and consultants and money paid to vendors for software, hardware, and other services.

Present additional budget information to business stakeholders

Each key initiative has already been categorized under one of the following buckets. Carry this categorization forward for your budget as well.

  1. Business Support
  2. IT Excellence
  3. Innovation

Estimate of expenses to be incurred in the next 12-month period. The outflow of funds reflects an operational plan for achieving organizational objectives. There are two major types of expenses: capital costs and operating costs.

  1. Capital Costs
  2. Capital Cost: Expenses incurred to buy things. This type of spending is related to the acquisition of assets. In an IT environment, capital costs include:

    • Purchasing a server.
    • An integration consulting fee incurred to set up a new system.
  3. Operating Costs
  4. Operating Cost: Expenses incurred to run the organization. This type of spending is related to the provision of services. In an IT environment, operating costs include:

    • Labor
    • Maintenance fees

Identify the new ask for IT’s budget by comparing it to historical data

Your audience won’t understand the value of IT if you can’t communicate the benefit(s).

  • An IT budgeting process must contain adequate measures to capture and communicate the benefit of IT investments.
  • This begins with the collection of data and ends with effectively presenting the benefits IT investments will have for the business.

Visit Info-Tech’s Build an IT Budget blueprint or Establish a Service-Based Costing Model blueprint to download the full methodology and learn more about how to effectively budget.

An example is shown on comparing budgets from 2020 budget + cost of 2021 strategy = 2021 budget

4.3 Identify IT’s target budget for your strategy

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your list of key initiatives.
  2. Identify the incremental cost of each initiative by brainstorming and discussing the following:
    • Labor costs: What are the ongoing and new costs associated with the IT staff who perform work?
    • Systems costs: What are the costs associated with purchasing, developing, integrating, or maintaining any new systems or applications?
    • Contracts costs: What are the costs associated with contract workers and consultants as well as vendors for software, hardware, and other services?
  3. Identify the breakdown of capital and operating costs for each major key initiative plan category (business support, IT excellence, innovation):
    • Capital costs: What are the new costs incurred to buy things and acquire new IT assets?
    • Operating costs: What are the costs incurred to run the IT organization and are related to the provision of services?

Document your findings in the IT Strategy Presentation Template.

Input

  • IT key initiatives
  • Historical budget information (last fiscal)

Output

  • Incremental costs for each key initiative
  • Changes in capital and operating costs

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings

Functional roadmaps include the team-level projects required to complete initiatives

The final step in building your operational strategy is to identify the team-level projects that will need to be executed to support each key initiative. These functional roadmaps will augment your strategy with tactical projects and outline the time, duration, effort, and resources required. The strategy team is accountable for building these roadmaps, while functional leaders are responsible for executing them along with their teams.

Example of roadmap that includes team-level projects

Begin with identifying all functional areas within your IT team

Identifying the different functional areas within your IT organization and their respective leaders will help determine how each key initiative will impact your teams and the work involved for each team. This level of rigor and discipline to project planning can be beneficial to your team’s success in supporting strategic initiatives.

  • Planning and controls should help drive progress and mitigate risk.
  • Reporting should help communicate KPIs and inform decision makers.
  • Project governance should help ensure that process accountabilities are clearly defined and followed.
Example functional areas are listed in image

4.4 Build functional roadmaps

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your list of key initiatives.
  2. Identify and list all your functional teams within IT.
  3. Consider one key initiative at a time, and brainstorm the following for each functional group:
    • What is the impact and expected outcome of this initiative from the team?
    • What project(s) must be completed by this team to achieve the outcome?
    • What are the project start and end dates?

Input

  • IT key initiatives
  • Functional teams and impact

Output

  • Team-level projects list
  • Functional roadmaps visuals

Materials

  • IT Strategy Workbook
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings

Finalize and communicate your IT strategy to the business

Use these sections of the final IT Strategy Presentation Template as a guide to communicate your strategy to different stakeholder groups.

  1. FY IT Strategy
  2. Audience: Business

    This section includes IT’s mission, vision, key initiatives, roadmap budget, and risk information.

    What will IT work on and why?

  3. FY IT Goals & Operating Strategy
  4. Audience: IT

    This section includes IT goals and all components of your operational strategy that your team needs to know.

    How will IT ensure success?

  5. FY Technology Roadmaps
  6. Audience: IT

    This section includes detailed functional roadmaps for each key initiative.

    What projects are required to execute on initiatives?

  7. Year-in-Review
  8. Audience: Business and IT

    This section includes the key highlights from IT’s strategy and achievements over the last fiscal year.

    How did IT perform last year?

Info-Tech Insight

If you don’t communicate it, it doesn’t exist; simple, appealing, and inspirational communication is needed.

4.5.1 Create a next steps checklist

30 minutes

  1. Gather the IT strategy creation team and revisit your final IT strategy.
  2. Present the IT strategy for approval from stakeholders, using information created in this blueprint.
  3. Refine the initiative roadmap based on decisions for risk and budget.
  4. Secure approval for the initiative roadmap and IT strategy.
  5. After approval, create a communication plan.
    • With the IT strategy approval, the big picture of the IT strategy has been communicated to the higher-level personnel in the organization.
    • Build a plan to communicate the big picture to all IT and business personnel involved in initiative execution.
    • Further, build out the communication plan to include provisions for ensuring that execution of the IT strategy is top of mind for all personnel involved.
    • Make sure the IT communication plan is targeted to the individuals working on each initiative. It is important for each team member to understand how the initiatives they are staffed on will impact IT’s vision and mission and the overall organization.

Input

  • IT strategy
  • Functional teams and impact

Output

  • Next steps checklist

Materials

  • IT Strategy Presentation Template
  • Collaboration/brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings

Include functional strategies in your next steps checklist

As part of your next steps checklist, identify the specific functional strategies that would be required to help your team during the execution phase. This can include processes and other impacts that need to be addressed on your strategy.

Diagram is shown that lists the IT strategy next steps,. Links for research is below. Review Your Application Strategy Build the Business by Building an Infrastructure Roadmap Build an Information Security Strategy Develop a Project Portfolio Management Strategy

Create a refresh strategy

It is important to dedicate time to your strategy throughout the year. Create a refresh plan to assess for the changing business context and its impact on the IT strategy. Make sure the regular planning cycle is not the primary trigger for strategy review. Put a process in place to review the IT strategy and make the IT organization proactive. Start by examining the changes to the business context and how the effect would trickle downwards. It’s typical for organizations to build a refresh strategy around budget season and hold planning and touchpoints to accommodate budget approval time.

Example:

Example diagram of a refresh strategy

4.5.2 Create a refresh strategy

30 minutes

  1. Work with the IT strategy creation team to identify the time frequencies that the organization should consider to refresh the IT strategy. Time frequencies can also be events that trigger a review (i.e. changing business goals). Record the different time frequencies in the IT Strategy Presentation Template.
  2. Discuss with the team the different audience members for each time frequency and the scope of the refresh. The scope represents what areas of the IT strategy need to be re-examined and possibly changed.
  3. Record the discussion in your IT Strategy Presentation Template.

Example:

FREQUENCY AUDIENCE SCOPE DATE
ANNUALLY Org. leadership team Resurvey, review/validate, update schedule Pre-budget
TOUCHPOINT IT leadership team Status update, risks/ constraints, priorities Oct. 2021
EVERY YEAR (REBUILD) IT leadership team Full planning Jan. 2022

Input

  • IT strategy

Output

  • Refresh strategy

Materials

  • IT Strategy Presentation Template
  • Collaboration/ brainstorming tool (whiteboard, flip chart, digital equivalent)

Participants

  • CIO
  • Senior IT Team

Download the IT Strategy Presentation Template to document your findings

Summary of Accomplishment

Define your operational strategy

  • Established IT governance by defining your stakeholder communication approach and key metrics and targets.
  • Evaluated budgetary requirements and changes based on IT’s key initiatives.
  • Evaluated organizational changes related to employee count and reporting structure impacted by key initiatives.
  • Built functional roadmaps and identified the project-level impact on each IT team.
  • Finalized your IT strategy presentation to stakeholders.

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop

Contact your account representative for more information.

workshops@infotech.com

1-888-670-8889

Research Contributors and Experts

Picture of Denis Goulet

Denis Goulet

Senior Workshop Director

Info-Tech Research Group

Denis is a transformational leader and experienced strategist who partners with clients to communicate, relate, and adapt for success. He is the lead facilitator for IT strategies and also an IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator. After helping develop 25+ IT strategies, from small to multibillion dollar organizations, he firmly believes in a collaborative, value-driven approach. He's held positions as CIO, Chief Administrative Office (City Manager), General Manager, and Vice President of Engineering. Under Denis' leadership, he sold his successful start-up firm Computer.Net, grew and led the sale and merger of a city-owned telecommunication division to private equity firm that was then acquired by an $8 billion telecommunication company, and he continues to grow his real estate rental business of the past 18 years. Denis holds a MBA from Ivy League Queen's University and diplomas in Technology Engineering and Executive Municipal Management.

Picture of David Wallace

David Wallace

Vice President, Industry Research

Info-Tech Research Group

Dave Wallace is the VP, Industry Practice, with Info-Tech Research Group. With over 39 years’ IT experience in the public and private sectors, Dave has experience in all information management and technology domains and an expert level of knowledge in enterprise architecture, change management, project management, service management, and strategic planning. Prior to joining Info-Tech, Dave served as the Executive Director at the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre, where he provided executive and senior IT leadership to ensure that its new application management system was successfully implemented to meet the needs of all Ontario universities. As the first CIO of the University of Waterloo, Dave worked with IT teams from across the university campus to optimize how IT could help advance vital campus services, along with the development of an award-winning student portal that continues to evolve today to meet student information and service needs. At the City of Toronto, as its first CIO, he provided senior leadership to transform the IT division and to help make the city’s innovative 311 service one of the leading resident service management entities in the world. At Chartwell IRM (now part of KPMG), Dave served as Vice President of the National Public Sector Program and led key initiatives with all three levels of government. As the first CTO, and earlier as the Head Architect, at the Government of Ontario, Dave led the development of a government-wide enterprise architecture and implemented effective IT governance by establishing its architecture review board.

Bibliography

Ahmed, Anam. “Importance of Mission Vision in Organizational Strategy.” Chron, 14 March 2019. Accessed 10 May 2021.

“Define the Business Context Needed to Complete Strategic IT Initiatives: 2018 Blueprint - ResearchAndMarkets.com.” Business Wire, 1 Feb. 2018. Accessed 9 June 2021.

Gray, Dave. “Post-Up.” Gamestorming, 15 Oct. 2010. Accessed 10 May 2021.

“IT Guiding Principles.” Office of Information Technology, NC State University, 2014-2020. Accessed 9 June 2021.

ITtoolkit.com. “The IT Vision: A Strategic Path to Lasting IT Business Alignment.” ITtoolkit Magazine, 2020. Accessed 9 June 2021.

Kark, Khalid. “Survey: CIOs Are CEOs’ Top Strategic Partner.” CIO Journal, The Wall Street Journal, 22 May 2020. Accessed 11 May 2021.

Peek, Sean. “What Is a Vision Statement?” Business News Daily, 7 May 2020. Accessed 10 May 2021.

Richards-Gustafson, Flora. “5 Core Operational Strategies.” Chron, 8 Mar 2019. Accessed 9 June 2021.

“Team Purpose & Culture.” Hyper Island. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

“Whiteboard Rotation.” Knowmium, 13 April 2020. Accessed 9 June 2019.

Zhu, Pearl. “How to Set Guiding Principles for an IT Organization?” Future of CIO, 1 July 2013. Accessed 9 June 2021.

Appendix

Contains examples of rationales and implications for the universal guiding principles.

IT Principle 1: Enterprise value focus

IT Principle Statement: We aim to provide maximum long-term benefits to the enterprise as a whole while optimizing total costs of ownership and risks.

Rationale

  • Solutions must aim to maximize the cumulative business benefits over their entire lifecycle.
  • Enterprise priorities are above priorities of a business unit or a project.
  • Total cost of ownership is more important than the cost to buy/build alone.
  • Risk governance and management are integral elements of the company’s operating model.

Implications

  • Link all investment proposals to business/IT strategy and goals.
  • Track and demonstrate business value realization on all major investments.
  • Prefer common solutions and shared services that benefit the enterprise over one-off solutions for one business unit.
  • Analyze and take into account organizational readiness for adopting new solutions.
  • Manage development and operational risks on every project and acquisition.
  • Include the total cost of ownership analysis for the proposed solution or solution options for every investment (project or acquisition) proposal.
  • Prefer vendor-independent solutions to avoid vendor lock-in and enable competitive sourcing.

IT Principle 2: Fit for purpose

IT Principle Statement: We maintain capability levels and create solutions that are fit for purpose without over engineering them.

Rationale

  • To be effective in satisfying business needs, solutions must be fit for purpose, i.e. fully conform to both functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Over-engineered solutions result in wasted budget, time, and resources and often increase operational complexity.
  • Required capability levels must be maintained to enable achievement of business, IT, and capability goals.
  • Higher-than-needed capability levels cost more while not resulting in additional value.

Implications

  • Identify functional and non-functional requirements of the business and buy/build solutions that conform to them.
  • Identify the following non-functional requirements for every solution that needs to be procured or built:
    • Business continuity requirements, e.g. availability, reliability, and recoverability
    • Performance requirements, e.g. response time and throughput
    • Usability requirements, e.g. accessibility, localization, user interface aesthetics, and consistency
  • Avoid over engineering, i.e. building or buying solutions that exceed functional and non-functional requirements of the business.
  • Maintain required capability levels for all IT capabilities. Develop and execute a capability improvement plan for IT capabilities that have a lower-than-required capability level. Avoid maintaining higher-than-needed IT capability levels.

IT Principle 3: Simplicity

IT Principle Statement: We choose the simplest solutions and aim to reduce the operational complexity of the enterprise.

Rationale

  • Complex solutions and high operational complexity impede reuse and interoperability, require increased effort to add, transform, or replace solution components, and result in higher lifecycle costs.

Implications

  • Minimize the unnecessary complexity:
    • Restructure existing application portfolios so they become highly modular and loosely coupled.
    • Eliminate duplicate application functionality.
  • Design solutions that simplify business processes and technology assets that support them:
    • Build highly modular and loosely coupled solutions.
  • Use standardized integration approaches.

IT Principle 4: Reuse > buy > build

IT Principle Statement: We maximize the reuse of existing assets. If we can’t reuse, we procure externally. As a last resort, we build custom solutions.

Rationale

  • Economies of scale are achieved through the reuse of solution components and the purchase of commercially available products, enabling the reduction of risk and effort.
  • Reuse helps avoid duplication of effort, decrease maintainability, and increase staff competency requirements.

Implications

  • Build for discovery. Encourage reuse by building modular, loosely coupled, interoperable, and discoverable components.
  • Build for reuse only if feasible. Consider costs of building for reuse versus potential frequency and benefits of reuse.
  • Reuse across business units. Choose cross-silo solutions over duplicative silo-specific ones. Buy/build shared services, common business solutions, and common-use applications.
  • Prefer vendor-independent solutions to enable portability and cross-platform reuse.

IT Principle 5: Managed data

IT Principle Statement: We handle data creation, modification, and use enterprise-wide in compliance with our data governance policy.

Rationale

  • Data is a key enterprise asset and must be governed and managed accordingly.
  • Enterprise-wide data governance ensures that enterprise data can be trusted and allows maximum benefits from its usage.

Implications

  • Every solution (procured externally or built internally) must comply with the data governance policy.
  • Every solution must pass a data governance checkpoint before it can be used anywhere within the enterprise.

IT Principle 6: Controlled technical diversity

IT Principle Statement: We control the variety of technology platforms we use.

Rationale

  • Limiting the number of different supported technologies:
    • Improves maintainability and reduces total cost of ownership.
    • Enhances staff focus on standardized technologies and reduces staff competency requirements.
    • Improves solution interoperability.

Implications

  • Build a case and obtain executive approval to introduce a new technology.
  • Request for approval to introduce new technology only if you have a valid reason, e.g. replacement of outdated technologies, IT-enabled business innovation, or reducing operational complexity.
  • Consider benefits of introducing a new technology versus the required additional maintenance effort, additional staff competency requirements, increased complexity, and the potential lack of interoperability with existing technologies.
  • Balance controlling technical diversity and IT-enabled business innovation.
  • Prefer vendor-independent technologies to enable solution interoperability and avoid vendor lock-in.
  • Reduce integration complexity by using standardized integration approaches.

IT Principle 7: Managed security

IT Principle Statement: We manage security enterprise-wide in compliance with our security governance policy.

Rationale

  • Security threats represent a high risk for enterprise information.
  • Security threats represent a high privacy risk.
  • Security-related risks require special treatment due to the associated complexity of required control procedures and rapidly changing threats.

Implications

  • Every solution (procured externally or built internally) must comply with the security policy.
  • Every solution must pass a security governance checkpoint before it can be used anywhere within the enterprise.
  • The existing IT environment must be continuously monitored for security vulnerabilities and breaches.
  • Security vulnerabilities and breaches must be treated to minimize the associated business risk.
  • Security vulnerabilities and breaches must be treated to minimize the associated privacy risk.

IT Principle 8: Compliance with laws and regulations

IT Principle Statement: We operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Rationale

  • We aim to minimize business risks caused by noncompliance with laws and regulations.

Implications

  • The internal audit department must maintain a list of applicable laws and regulations.
  • Every IT investment proposal must comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • The internal audit department must continually assess its degree of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, identify areas of noncompliance, and plan and implement initiatives targeted at minimizing the risk of noncompliance and achieving compliance.

IT Principle 9: Innovation

IT Principle Statement: We seek innovative ways to use technology for business advantage.

Rationale

  • We innovate to build industry-leading products for our customers.

Implications

  • Stay current on the business priorities and strategic aspirations to be able to innovate for the business.
  • Identify technology trends and new ways to use technology for business advantage and share ideas with the Innovation Committee.

IT Principle 10: Customer centricity

IT Principle Statement: We deliver the best experiences to our customers with our services and products.

Rationale

  • We support the customer intimacy theme from our business strategy by providing best experiences to our customers.

Implications

  • Measure and improve customer satisfaction with our services and products.
  • Define service levels for services provided to our customers; measure and improve our performance.
  • Engineer products with best-in-class usability:
    • Manage usability requirements (accessibility, localization, user interface aesthetics, and consistency) and test solutions against them.
    • Listen to customers by involving them in product design.
  • Manage customer relationships.

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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Overall Impact

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Average $ Saved

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Average Days Saved

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What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Success depends on IT initiatives clearly aligned to business goals, IT excellence, and driving technology innovation.

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Guided Implementation #1 - Pre-Project Call
  • Call #1 - Discuss business context and customize your organization’s capability map.

Guided Implementation #2 - Establish the scope of your IT strategy
  • Call #1 - Identify mission and vision statements and guiding principles to discuss strategy scope.

Guided Implementation #3 - Review performance from last fiscal year
  • Call #1 - Assess year-in-review data and evaluate performance.
  • Call #2 - Discuss diagnostic data results and success stories.

Guided Implementation #4 - Build your key initiative plan
  • Call #1 - Identify strategic initiatives and required information.
  • Call #2 - Discuss how to build your roadmap.

Guided Implementation #5 - Define your operational strategy
  • Call #1 - Discuss and identify appropriate operational strategy components.
  • Call #2 - Summarize results and plan next steps.

Contributors

  • Luis Ramón Ramos Espinoza, Chief Information Officer, Suramericana
  • Kyle Saverance, Chief Information Officer, Coker College
  • Scott Ross, SVP Omni-Channel Technologies, Lowe’s Companies
  • Max Min, Director, Waterloo City Centre
  • Philip D’Aurelio, Development Solutions Supervisor, City of Hamilton
  • Michael Dieckmann, Chief Operating Officer, Florida Virtual Campus
  • Joe Evers, Consulting Principal, JcEvers Consulting Corporation
  • Ken Piddington, Chief Information Officer, MRE Consulting
  • 2 anonymous contributors
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